Here are some media stories of note for Monday, February 17, 2014:
While it appears that the Twitter photo blackout has been lifted
in Venezuela, the same can't be said for television coverage of the largest protests in recent memory
. Government leaders have appeared on state television to accuse opposition leaders of fomenting violence, but media have not been significantly covering the protests in which three have died. Press freedom groups believe government intimidation is suppressing the journalism.
The Verge reports on how journalists in Russia are being muzzled in their attempts to portray Sochi and the Olympics realistically. Russians have been getting a very rosy picture, not the one international audiences are getting about hotels, empty stadiums and poor sanitation.
WNET, the New York public television broadcaster, has decided to return a $3.5-million grant
and put an ambitious series on the economic sustainability of public pensions on hold following a PandoDaily report
that identified a possible ethical concern about the activities of a foundation underwriting the project.
The report said hedge fund manager John Arnold, the co-sponsor of the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, had taken a specific position on pension sustainability. WNET initially dismissed the report but has changed its mind in recent days. The station will continue to report on the subject but is looking for another funding source for the larger project, which has been featured since September.
Here are some media stories of note for Thursday, January 23, 2014:
The Associated Press has severed ties
with a freelance photographer who used software to remove the image of a colleague's video camera in a photo of protests in Syria. The AP said he breached its requirements for truth and accuracy. It has also removed all images from him in its archive.Gawker's Adam Weinstein wonders
if it went too far.
Alice Speri, writing for Al Jazeera America,
looks at the intimidation of and violence against journalists in advance of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. The self-censorship and threats have created a "timid press" rarely willing to venture into independent territory.
William Wan, the Beijing-based correspondent for the Washington Post, tackles the subject of journalist challenges there in a post for Poynter
. He argues that, while visas can be denied and websites put out of reach for difficult reporting, self-censorship is the most insidious of the threats.
Here are some media stories of note for Tuesday, January 21, 2014:
Grantland editor Bill Simmons has written an extensive explanatory note
, with an apology, following the site's publication last week of a story about a golf club inventor who was discovered to have exaggerated credentials and hidden her birth as a man. She took her life as the story was being researched. The reporter revealed her transgender to an investor.
Simmons takes us through the development of the story, its stops and starts, and backs the journalism in general, but notes that someone from the transgender community should have read the piece before it appeared because Grantland's team was unsophisticated in how it handled the topic.
One of Simmons' editors, meanwhile, has written a far more critical piece (with his blessing) of the site's conduct. Christina Karhl says
the episode is an excellent example of how not to treat a human being.
Alastair Reid, writing for journalism.co.uk,
examines the evolution of smartwatches and their potential impact on the production and consumption of news. His reporting points to greater flexibility technically and much more of a stand-alone purpose to smartwatches. He believes they'll be complementary to tablets and smartphones.
Michael Wolff, the veteran media columnist, writes for USA Today
that last week's U.S. court ruling on net neutrality stands to recreate the natural order of things in which the big companies run media. The ruling will make it harder to break in to digital media, but will fortify the big firms and help ensure their viability.
Here are some media notes for Monday, January 20, 2014:
Caleb Hannan wrote last week for Grantland
on a golf club inventor. In the course of his investigation into claims by Dr. Essay Anne Vandebilt, Hannan outed her, against her wishes, as transgendered. At the end of the piece, Hannan notes that she killed herself.
There has been extensive criticism, and some defence, of the piece across a range of media in recent days about the ethics of the piece. Josh Levin of Slate argues
Hannan went too far. Maria Dahvana Headley, in her The Glittering Scrivener blog,
agrees that the story is not always the most important thing.
ESPN, in a statement to a Sports Illustrated reporter
, says it offers condolences, is sensitive to such issues, and believe it can learn from the feedback on the story. Hannan has said he is working with the editors of Grantland on a statement, which will be issued shortly.
It isn't conventional that a "press freedom" delegation would visit a country with historic leadership in an independent press. But that's what happened last week
in the United Kingdom, where a two-day campaign by a delegation of the World Association of Newspapers pleaded with the government to stand down on its recent efforts to regulate press and to intimidate The Guardian following its leaks of surveillance secrets. The delegation met many and will issue a report next month.
In 2012, Aaron Kushner placed a significant bet on the future of print media by buying the Orange County Register, significantly increasing the size of the newsroom, and relaunching an effort to win the audience and advertisers in the region. The company bought another paper in Riverside and has since announced the impending launch of a Los Angeles title.
But it is not going to be a smooth ascension. Last week the paper laid off 32, including the editor, and acknowledged it had to tack a lot more carefully as it rebuilds. The New York Times' David Carr, in his latest Media Equation column, surveys the scene.
Here are some media stories of note for Friday, December 20, 2013:
The New York Times has boldly moved into the native advertising arena. Before it goes there, it has explained to its audience and employees
the principles that will guide the activity: clear labelling of a Paid Post, a different look than its editorial content, and its creation by the sales department and not the newsroom, among other things. The Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan, immediately wrote about it Thursday
and identified some of the results of her reporting, including the eight-figure revenue expectation and the allocation of some key online real estate to the effort.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger looks at the differences
between Britain and the U.S. on the National Security Agency surveillance issue. In America, a healthy debate is under way. In Britain, apathy abounds. This follows what Rusbridger calls a thoughtful and well-informed U.S. report this week commissioned by the President into the revelations largely unfurled by his newsroom. That report calls for changes in how the NSA does its work and argues for a strong defence of journalism to do its work.
Cory Haik, the Washington Post executive producer for digital, provides her predictions
for 2014 in the Nieman Journalism Lab series. She argues that this will be the year of news that anticipates the audience's needs, something she calls adaptive journalism, available whenever and however. It will be a time of great experimentation with a device-first ethos.
Pierre Omidyar's new media company has a name: First Look Media. It has committed its first $50 million to the operation. And it is starting to take shape as a hybrid for-profit technology firm and a non-profit journalism company. Profits from the former will help the latter. Company advisor Jay Rosen, the NYU scholar, provides some details
in his latest Pressthink column.
Here are some media stories of note for Wednesday, December 18, 2013:
Two major reports are out on the threats to journalists worldwide. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes
that 2013 has been the second-worst year on record for jailing. Some 211 were jailed. Turkey (which for the second year in a row led the way), Iran and China are the three top countries locking up journalists.
And Reporters Without Borders notes
71 reporters have been killed this year in connection with their work. Meanwhile, there was a 129-per-cent growth in abductions (87, up from 38 in 2012).
And a new Gallup poll ranks journalists low in honesty and ethics. Kristen Hare, writing about the poll for Poynter
, notes only 20 per cent ranked television reporters and 21 per cent ranked newspaper reporters as highly honest and ethical. Only 14 per cent said the same of advertisers.
For the weekend of November 30-December 1, 2013, here are some media stories of note:
The editor of a magazine in India that has pushed for an end to sexual violence has been arrested in a sexual assault case. The Associated Press reports
Tarun Tejpal, editor of Tehelka, is accused of assaulting a female colleague earlier in November. He had earlier stepped down for what he said was a lapse in judgment.
Meanwhile, the Indian vice president has released a book
on media ethics, a series of essays by prominent journalists and officials. Hamid Ansari indicates that a stronger form of media self-regulation is needed to restore credibility or there will need to be government intervention to effect improvements. He argues media have lost their way into excessive commercialism, glamour and sensationalism.
The government of Pakistan is indicating
further measures are forthcoming on its freedom of information law. A code of conduct is also emerging in the country for its journalists. At a conference Friday, the government affirmed its commitment to free expression and to a strengthening of ethical practices.
For Friday, November 15, 2013, here are some media stories of note:
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former communications director, spoke in his role
as a visiting professor at Cambridge about the media and politics. It is a meandering speech, but its central points appear to be: the audience is savvy enough to drive media change, the regulation debate in England is a mess, politicians would do better to think strategically more than tactically, and the threat to journalism comes from within. He argues that media decline owes not to technology but to a lack of accountability, abuse of power, and rising public awareness of journalism's methods.
Alexander Howard, writing for the Tow Center
for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, examines some of the recent ethical pitfalls of data-driven journalism. He argues that the tensions and their consequences will only grow more difficult and that journalists need to be more conscious of ethics than ever in this new environment of access to and distribution of data.
A report from the Pew Research Journalism Project
suggests 21 per cent of Facebook users and 18 per cent of Twitter users get news often from newspapers. Local TV is a news source often for 42 per cent of Facebook users and 23 per cent of Twitter users. Cable (23 and 17 per cent for Facebook and Twitter users, respectively) and radio (25 and 24 per cent) are also strong sources.
USA Today media writer Rem Rieder argues
that CBS News must conduct a full, transparent inquiry into the errant 60 Minutes report last month on the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. Rieder believes the damage to the venerable program is substantial and that CBS News must move swiftly to answer many questions about its practices in this matter.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013's media stories of note:
Paul Farhi of the Washington Post has set upon
the second questionable ethical move by NBC News in a week. Earlier he chronicled a decision by NBC to develop a movie with a victimized family it covered exclusively. Now he is writing about payment to skydivers for aerial footage and interviews following a collision by two airborne small planes. The video set NBC back $100,000 and gets them a Today Show exclusive Tuesday and two weeks' worth of exclusive television coverage (print interviews are permitted under their agreement).
Is the drive for transparency distorting the ethics of media and democracy? University of Oregon scholar Stephen Ward (transparency disclosure: a former colleague) argues that the
"hyperbole" of transparency is a cop-out for more formidable obligations of the craft: responsible publication and independence. Moreover, Ward argues, some important journalism is non-transparent and that transparency is not necessary for many forms of good journalism.
NYU scholar Jay Rosen rarely sets fingers to keyboard without shaking conventional wisdom and finding insights into digital media. His latest Pressthink post
is the basis of a speech in Australia and it riffs on Old and New Testament media traits: Old being everyone involved, New being media as mediators in insiders and outsiders, those kinds of riffs. The New Testament's business model, which valued the protection of media, is breaking down. He isn't necessarily siding, but he is suggesting both pieces are moving toward reconciliation. Neither has a monopoly on virtue, he says, and the messiah has yet to surface.
Media outlets have raised concern about a recent 60 Minutes segment on the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost last year in Benghazi. They've noted the central subject of the segment had different stories for the cameras and for officials. Now the Huffington Post's media writer, Michael Calderone, is reporting that
the subject, British security official Dylan Davies, has admitted there are differing tales --- but that the television one (and the one in his book) are factual and that he lied to his boss about his whereabouts on the night of the attack.
For Monday, November 4, 2013, here are some media stories of note:
Last week brought about some high-profile journalistic ethics questions, with no resolution necessarily imminent.
For instance, NBC has entered a development deal for a movie based on the story of Brett Anderson and his teenaged daughter who was kidnapped and whose mother and brother were murdered. This followed exclusive news interviews on NBC. Is it an ethical breach for one arm of your company to pay those who were sources of information for another arm of your company? Paul Farhi of the Washington Post
looks at the dilemma and doesn't conclude one way or the other.
Then there is a 60 Minutes report last week on last year's attack on U.S. officials in Benghazi. Last week Media Matters raised the question
of the differences in the story 60 Minutes heard from an eyewitness and the story he supposedly told the FBI and other U.S. officials. Media attention has grown
on the different stories, as have calls for a retraction, but 60 Minutes has so far held its ground and stood by the story.
Lewis D'Vorkin, the chief product officer at Forbes, has a distinct view
on digital accuracy: He thinks quality means something different in print than in digital, that the Internet is a self-correcting body due to the public scrutiny and intervention, and that his organization has a code of ethics but freedom to operate within it as a contributor with a finger on the Send button. In his view: "Accountability must be moved to the producer of the content."
As for consumers of content, there is good news for Twitter
: Its news consumers are young, educated and mobile, ingredients bound to attract advertising support. A new Pew Research report indicates 8 per cent of U.S. adults get news through Twitter. Analysis of the data also indicates that much of what is shared is breaking news, that sentiments shift constantly, and that conversations don't necessarily reflect public opinion.
Last month a Yale University study suggested major U.S. media were more clearly conservative in their depiction of National Security Agency surveillance, using pro-surveillance terms more often than pro-freedom terms in their stories. It has extended this analysis
into more consciously conservative media and affirmed the finding. Its conclusion: the coverage isn't necessarily a reflection of a "pro-state" bias because that's difficult to define, but it is "capturing a meaningful divide" in society.