Mona Zhang wrote an article on Thursday for Media Bistro called, “Newton to Journalists: Focusing on the Story Just Isn’t Enough Anymore”.
According to her article, the distrust of the media by Americans is at an all time high. She writes, “In the digital age, journalists are required to don different hats; from multimedia to social media, there is an increasing amount of tools available for telling the story and sharing it. Still, it may not be enough.”
Zhang also mentions that Eric Newton, the senior adviser to the president of the Knight Foundation, spoke at the Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting. Newton told the group of investigative reporters that just telling the story is not enough. Zhang says,
“…he [Newton] has spent his entire life worshiping the mantra, “The story is all that really matters.” Until now. “The story is not the only thing that matters,” he said. “A story by itself does not change the world. Someone must absorb it, share it, act on it and yes, even pay for it.” In order for stories to truly matter, he argues, news literacy is key, as is transparency, which can help facilitate dialogue and understanding within communities. “Sixty nine percent of America believes that if local newspapers no longer existed, it would be no big deal,” he said, which is why now, more than ever, journalists have an obligation not just to say, “Hey! Listen to this story!” but “Hey! This is why you should listen to this story!”
Newton, I believe is on to something. News literacy is a crucial part in today’s news industry. With so much information at our finger tips, most people have no idea how or where to begin gathering news. Many news consumers have no idea what the difference between propaganda, opinion and hard fact-based news truly looks like. I’ve said this in earlier posts, so many news organizations present information that is not truly news, as news. With this behavior becoming a growing trend, the news consumer hasn’t got a chance. Not to mention the impact of, yes I know…this again, social media. Information is at our very fingertips accessible twenty-four hours a day. Not just on the computer, but on our television screens, our tablets, and our mobile phones.
News consumers need the tools that news literacy provides. And now, it is the responsibility of journalists to give you the information you need, but also to inform you of the reasons why you should read the story and why it has relevance in your life.
Yes, as Zhang points out, we journalists wear many hats, and educating our news consumers about why they should read our stories, is just as important.
- Knight Foundation senior advisor receives Markoff award for investigative reporting fund (blogs.journalism.co.uk)
- CIR to launch investigative news channel on YouTube (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Americans on Environment News: We Want More! (motherjones.com)
- FAQ: Online journalism ethics, accuracy, transparency and objectivity (onlinejournalismblog.com)
- Getting the News – danah boyd (news.me)
Bloomberg Businessweek ran an article last week by Alex Sherman, ” Has CNN‘s All-News Strategy Become Old News?”. It seems that the folks at CNN feel that there are times when commercials are not appropriate.
In Sherman’s article, Mark Whitaker, the CNN Worldwide Managing Editor, is quoted saying, “Our bread and butter is in-depth coverage of breaking news…We have faith that will help us with the ratings”.
The article goes on to discuss that CNN establishes high ratings when covering breaking news stories that have major national interest, like disasters, plane crashes and of late, the protests associated with the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
According to the article, networks sell roughly 70% of their available advertising space a year in advance and the rest is sold at a higher rate since advertisers know more people tune in when there is breaking news.
Lyle Scwhartz, a managing director for a media buying firm that is part of the largest advertising company in the United States, says that these ads still need to be placed in available time slots and by the time that happens, the breaking news might be over.
The article also adds that there is a problem between tragedy and commercial advertising. Many airline industries have an agreement that the networks will not air their commercials while covering things like plane crashes. Other breaking news is also uninterrupted.
Once the breaking news has subsided, according to Sherman, CNN’s ratings drop them back down to third place.
So this article begs the question: If advertisers buy these time slots at a higher rate because more viewers tune in during breaking news, but the network reduces and in some cases cease all commercial time during this same period, who benefits from this model?
I just don’t see this as being a sustainable business model for CNN. After a while, the advertisers are going to get pretty fed up with buying more expensive time slots for nothing. The comments associated with this article and a related article on Media Bistro, for the most part, have been pretty tough on CNN and it’s programming. Most people are critical of the bias they see on CNN as well as the notion that they are an all news network.
Since CNN is declining in ratings, and constantly lags behind other networks like Fox News Channel, and MSNBC not just in ratings but in advertising revenue as well, I can only guess that continuing this business model will ultimately lead to the end for CNN. Whitaker having “faith” that this will keep the network afloat seems like a stretch, at best.
As noted in Sherman’s article, there is so much competition out there as far as tuning in to the news, laptops, phones, tablets, other than its booming online website, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities to say that CNN is in the early stages of the death throes of a dying network.
You can read the Media Bistro post on the subject here.
- CNN Loses Half Its Viewers (the2012scenario.com)
- Why CNN’s Digital Strength May Cause Problems For Fox (worldmediatrend.wordpress.com)
One of the many Media Bistro blogs, FishbowlNY, published and article by Chris O’Shea on Friday titled, “USA Today Journalists Targets of Online Intimidation”. The two journalists in the article, Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker claim that fake websites and twitter accounts had been created as a smear campaign to deter them from the investigative journalism work they were doing about the Pentagon and its propaganda contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
O’Shea quotes sections from a Washington Post opinion blog, which stated:
“In an interview Thursday night, Locker said that the campaign was ‘something I’ve never experienced in 30 years’ in this business. The sites launched in the names of the USA Today colleagues, suggests Locker, were insidious samples of infocrafting. They contained links to work that the journalists had done, plus a space for comments on the stories. In that space, says Locker, there were ‘nasty, untrue’ remarks from commenters who didn’t appear to be real people.”
“Looking back, the 52-year-old Locker doesn’t come off traumatized by the Internet tinkering. “It’s been a little bit of a distraction,” he says. But he’s happy that the paper published a story exposing the scheme. “I think it’s good that we called attention to it. . . . I’m glad that the people I work for have my back,” he says.
There is some symmetry to the whole story: Locker and Vanden Brook document in their investigative story that info ops practices in war zones are “dubious.” Just like the ones arrayed against them.”
Apparently the Pentagon denies any involvement in this attack on the journalists. Interesting, considering the very nature of the Pentagon and it’s practices lend to a school of thought that includes secrecy, subterfuge and manipulation of Peoples and who knows what else you can imagine. I’m not knocking these things as value-less tools in times of war, but since when is it okay to practice this behavior on citizens of the United States charged with the role of the watchdog?
I’m relieved to read that this attempt of intimidation did not work, and the two journalists continued with their investigative project, but the thought that our government, especially in light of bills like CISPA trying to be passed, should be examined very seriously and we journalists should be on our guard, and realize that the time to protect our freedoms of speech and press as well as privacy need to be at the forefront of our minds. Now more than ever, I believe journalists must continue to scrutinize the government and fully embrace that watchdog role. Kudos to USA Today for standing by their journalists. I hope to see more of this type of support in the future.
- Misinformation Campaign Targets USA TODAY Reporter, Editor (blacklistednews.com)
- Pentagon Smears USA Today Reporters Investigating – Wait for It – Illegal Pentagon Propaganda (washingtonsblog.com)
- USA Today Journalists Become Victims Of ‘Reputation Attack’ After Reporting On Pentagon Propaganda (thinkprogress.org)
- Reporters Slammed By Mysterious Propaganda After USA Today Psy Ops Story (businessinsider.com)
- Misinformation Campaign Targets USA TODAY Reporters Investigating Pentagon Propaganda Contractors – Puppet Masters – Sott.net (powersthatbeat.wordpress.com)
- Meet the Pentagon Contractor That Ran a Disinformation Campaign Against Two USA Today Reporters [Smears] (gawker.com)
Watling writes, “Alan Greenblatt explains in his story today that increasingly, government officials are asking him to prove his official journalist status before granting him interviews. Tides have turned and now it’s not just the reporter doing background research, but the sources are backgrounding the reporters.”
Greenblatt is a correspondent for NPR.org, and wrote about his recent experience of being asked to prove he is a journalist.
In her blog post, Watling brings up some very interesting points, she writes:
- What type of proof is enough?
- What if you’re not working for an agency that hands out press badges?
- What’s stopping you from printing up your own press badge and business cards?
- It’s not like you apply for a license to be a journalist and can hand out your license number to verify with the state, as electricians or plumbers do. (I hope nobody gets any bright ideas.)
- And it’s not like medical professions where you need a certain degree and set of training to perform the job; you simply do not need a degree in journalism to prove you know how to ask who, what, when, where, why and how, and then write it up accurately.
- Plenty of good reporters didn’t learn those skills in the classroom.
- And plenty of bad reporters have a degree but still didn’t learn to apply those skills well.
I happen to agree with her. Watling also mentions the recent court case involving a blogger, the judge ruled the blogger was not a journalist. So how is it determined that someone is a journalist? According to the judge mentioned in Watling’s article, it would be someone who followed these guidelines:
“Defendant fails to bring forth any evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist. For example, there is no evidence of (1) any education in journalism; (2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity; (3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest; (4) keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted; (5) mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources; (6) creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others; or (7) contacting “the other side” to get both sides of a story. Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not “media.””
You can read the opinion of the court here.
Currently, the only things I have to show someone who questions my validity as a journalist is, my diploma, my business card and my Society of Professional Journalists card. (Needless to say I don’t carry my diploma with me.) So what if I fall into one or more of the categories she lists above?
I also shiver at the idea that an institution for licensing journalists could be created. Since when do we need a license to practice our basic freedoms, like speech and the press?
Watling also states, “Fortunately for me, as a working journalist and blogger, I can check off each of these seven in some way and when appropriate (i.e. I’m not going on background on most stories, and sometimes my blog posts are just an aggregation of pieces I think people should read). Whew. But what if you didn’t attend journalism school (No. 1)? What if you’re an opinion columnist/blogger whose job it is to be one-sided (No. 7)? What if your job includes curating a mass of content into a product that helps pull together a story from disparate sources (No. 6)? What if you’ve never been affiliated with a MSM news agency but instead set up your own news outlet (No. 2)?”
I’m not sure there is a simple answer here. Of course following the ethics of journalism and knowing the laws associated with the press are two very important things among many others, but there are loopholes. I agree with Watling, that it’s a kind of “New Media vs. News Media“, and all of this New Media is blurring the lines. There are a lot of great aspects of citizen journalism, but also some negative ones. Fact-checking and verification of sources etc, are both very important in journalism. I’m afraid much of that is lost on many “citizen journalists”. Yet still, there are a lot of “citizen journalists” out there that bring to light information and news that might otherwise be lost on the larger media groups.
This is a fascinating area for discussion. While many legacy news organizations struggle to find their footing in this digital age, there are other, newer organizations bursting onto the scene. How this plays out in the future, and what develops as the definition of a journalist or journalism will be something to watch.
This isn’t a winner-takes-all situation. I think there is plenty of playing room on the field.
- Figure out if Old Journalism Ethics Apply to Social Media, Eat Free Pizza, Earn Extra Credit! (nicolekraftosu.wordpress.com)
- Pulitzer Prize Ends Blogger vs. Journalist Debate (bigthink.com)
- Real Journalist Ignores Future of Many Real Journalists (arnoldit.com)
- Should News Bloggers be Considered Journalists? (newmediarockstars.com)
The New York Times ran an article on Monday by Jennifer Preston. It appears lawyers representing 20 media companies, including the New York Times, is asking that the judge on the Zimmerman case, unseal the court files. The lawyers claim that the documents were sealed incorrectly based on procedure, and that this information should be available to the public. Specifically, the press. They are also claiming that Zimmerman’s lawyer did not offer the court evidence proving that sealing the documents was necessary.
“…the lawyers for the media companies, which included The New York Times Company, argued that the records were improperly sealed because Mr. O’Mara did not submit evidence showing that closing them was necessary to prevent a “serious and imminent” threat to the administration of justice.”
You can read the eight-page motion authored by the lawyers representing the media companies, here.
I’m not a lawyer, let me make that perfectly clear. But, as an average citizen reading this article, I have to wonder if this motion on behalf of the media companies, was not done on a self-serving basis and that alone. These same media companies, the ones that didn’t bother to pay attention to the story until nearly 3 weeks after it actually happened, now want front row seats and access to all the preliminary documents?
I may be mistaken, but once the official trial date has been set, and the jury selected, and court proceedings are underway, won’t these same media companies have access to the trial? Isn’t that part of a fundamental right, a public trial?
In this age of competitive digital journalism, it seems to me that these folks don’t want to miss the boat again. Social networks, as noted in an earlier post, “Social Networks Bring Tragic Story to National Media“, brought this story out immediately, and it wasn’t until it spread like wild-fire and almost 3 weeks after that, did the national media perk up and realize there was something going on.
Something smells rotten in Denmark, as my Grandmother used to say. I’m not sure how access to these documents at this point benefits anyone. I don’t see it benefiting Zimmerman, the family of Trayvon Martin, or the general public. I do see the possibility of the media getting hold of documents and sensationalize them, and use them to sell papers, online hits, etc.
To believe that the release of these documents and the nature of them could in no way taint a jury pool; is to believe that the world is full of lollipops and rainbows.
Maybe I’m a bit cynical, but the coverage of this story has been relentless since the national conglomerates got wind of it. I’m not justifying that or not, it’s just my observation. If I can turn on my television, or computer every day, and find some aspect of this story freshly pressed, then I believe it is in the realm of possibilities that any potential juror could see the same thing.
I think the media companies involved with this motion are forgetting one little, very simple fact. There is no “right to know” in this country. Not legally. Not in the Constitution, no-where. There are however, several rights that are on the “books” that speak directly about trial and the courts. It’s called the Sixth Amendment.
I would suggest that the major media companies involved in this motion, take it on the chin and show up extra early at the start of the trial. Maybe, you can get a good seat.
- Judge steps aside from George Zimmerman case (cnn.com)
- Zimmerman Case Already a Tangle (thedailybeast.com)
- Media outlets seek to open sealed records in Trayvon Martin murder case (dailykos.com)
Jason Koebler wrote an article Thursday for US News.com that discusses the dangers of the new Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Yes, bear with me as we explore yet another acronym from the government, CISPA.
In his article, Koebler says, “…Experts say the danger level associated with CISPA depends on the answer to one question: Which Constitution amendment do you care about more, the First or the Fourth?”.
The idea behind CISPA according to the article and the congressmen who sponsored the bill is, that this will allow corporations and companies to share user information with the government without penalty or threat from general citizens or in other words, without getting sued by their users. Now, the government says this information is completely voluntary and, the companies are not required to share data. They are encouraged to share data only if it pertains to cyber-security and national security with the hope of stopping attacks from outside sources trying to steal information and other similar threats. The makers of the bill say it’s a two-way street.
In his article Koebler quotes Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, “ The government can say ‘you want our secret sauce, give us all your data, if you play ball with us, we’ll play ball with you.’”
Dempsey also goes on to say in the article that once the bill, “CISPA removes the legal barriers, it becomes harder for companies to resist those inducements, which can lead them to do things they’re uncomfortable with.”
From what I can gather from the article by Koebler, and the statements from the congressmen and Dempsey, this bill is opening a two-way street of “non-required” sharing of private users information and in doing so, skirts the Fourth Amendment. This leaves every private citizen who uses the internet vulnerable to the governments smooth talking proposals to the companies and corporations like Facebook, Verizon, AT&T, Microsoft and others.
Well. Now if that doesn’t box your ears and leave them ringing, I don’t know what will. I’m sorry, could you repeat the question? Which Amendment do I care about more? Why should that be entertained?
Recently our government, via the FBI, put out a Request For Information regarding software that could be used to find “danger” words in social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter as well as on search engines. Is this the beginning of the end of free speech on the Internet? Is this a violation of a reasonable expectation of privacy?
If you are pulled over by the police while driving, can they just search your vehicle because they feel like it? I don’t think they can. Can the police show up on your doorstep and search your house, your phone, your laptop or your refrigerator? Nope. Please correct me if I am wrong on any of this, but it was my understanding that without evident probable cause or a warrant, the government in any form is not allowed to search and seize a private citizen or their property. I would think that this would include intellectual property, no? I know that might be a stretch, but if we can sue others in court over the ownership of intellectual property, then does it not become just as tangible as your car?
What do you think about this? Do you think the government is over-reaching? Is this legislation something we should support in the name of national security? Is it in violation of the Constitution?
The Fourth Amendment states the following:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
This was the case in a recent article by Mark Trumbull, a staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor. It’s seems there is almost no one out there in the digital media world (including myself) that can resist discussing Muto.
Through his blogging for Gawker, Muto made some pretty heavy comments about the journalistic ethics of his employer, right down to using the nasty “B” word, bias.
Basically, Muto decided he was fed up with his employer Fox News and decided to start blogging about it. He also posted some video of outtakes that had never aired, and used his daily interactions as a producer to “expose” the bias of FoxNews, and in some instances, specifically their website.
Trumbull shared in his article what Muto wrote for Gawker, “…The plan was simple: Get hired, keep my head down and my views to myself, work for a few months, build my resume, then eventually hop to a new job that didn’t make me cringe every morning when I looked in the mirror.”
Trumbull questions whether or not Muto is a whistle-blower, or a “disloyal self-promoter”.
In truth, I’m not sure why this is news and I don’t think Muto is a whistle-blower, nor a disloyal self-promoter. Okay, maybe the worst self promoter in the history of people looking for their 15 minutes of fame.
As a news consumer, I’ve concluded that most of the media powerhouses out there like MSNBC, FoxNews, CNN, and the like, all practice what I would say is some form of political bias. I know plenty of people who watch these programs and can figure out that Fox leans to the conservative right and the others, for the most part, lean left and liberal. This is not a surprise. So I’m afraid Muto’s “revelations” about his employer of 8 years is not exactly breaking news.
This is also why I think, many people are looking to local news, and other sources, like the wide variety of news aggregators on the web, for their information. Why shouldn’t they?
Despite the ocean of cognitive dissonance viewers find themselves bobbing around in and the myopic view of what the public considers news, this network, as well as all the others will continue to thrive. Largely, because they successfully pass off what is truly opinion, as factual news. They are all guilty of portraying their “talking heads” as if they were anchors delivering hard news they consider important and relevant to the public.
If you can differentiate between what is news and what is opinion, you will do just fine. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with having an honest debate and broadcasting opinions as long as the opinions are represented as such.
This blog for example, is simply my interpretation of the news about the news. When I can, I offer up fact based evidence to support my view and when I can’t, well…it’s just my opinion and you can take it or leave it. This opinion should however, never be motivated by my personal political views or other beliefs. It must be an intelligent discussion of the information presented, and that is why I believe at this point in the game, Muto is a mute point.
His 15 minutes are more like 5, and I look forward to when the news outlets move on to more relevant and newsworthy subjects.