by Mike Masnick
Fri, Nov 6th 2009 6:01pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 14th 2009 7:59pm
It's 2009 And Newspapers Are Just Now Realizing That Reporters Should Interact With Their Communities?
from the better-late-than-never dept
We're joining the online conversation. For too long, we at The Plain Dealer posted stories on cleveland.com and then turned away to focus on the next day's news. Now, we're encouraging our reporters and editors to pay attention to what you're saying, to answer your questions and respond to your complaints.A newspapers' true asset is the community it serves. Too many in the newspaper business have been neglecting that community. It's great that this particular newspaper seems to have finally figured it out, though it's amazing that it took this long and is such a big change in focus that it requires an announcement.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 28th 2009 7:31am
from the hiding-them-doesn't-change-that dept
While we're on the subject, the whole thing seems based on this platonic ideal of journalism that involves the objective, unbiased reporter. The guidelines basically tell reporters and editors that they shouldn't say anything that suggests they actually have an opinion on something, and the editor who deleted his Twitterstream did so because it expressed an opinion on certain news events. But, it's time we got over this. Just because people pretend to be objective, it doesn't make them objective. Just because reporters claim to be unbiased, it doesn't make them unbiased.
Yes, it's great to strive to be as fair and impartial as possible. It's important to present as much as is reasonable as possible. But the bias is there. Pretending it isn't is ridiculous -- and, at times, damaging. It's what leads reporters to go overboard in trying to "present both sides of the story" even if one side is completely ridiculous. Reporters have too much trouble saying "wait, that's wrong." They just present what was said and move on, without ever digging into the truth. In the quest for impartiality, they've actually gotten away from providing accuracy and honesty. I'd much rather have reporters clearly state their bias and opinion, and then let others argue the points out.
And, of course, reporters and editors have always had opinions. It's why they have an editorial page, after all. But, even more important, it's bias and opinion that goes into determining what story makes the front page, or the middle page or gets spiked. It's about how the "facts" of the story are presented. There's bias everywhere. Asking reporters to bite their tongue and not actually say what they think doesn't negate the bias, and it doesn't help readers/viewers/listeners get any closer to what's real. It's just a way of avoiding responsibility, avoiding the community, and avoiding doing a good job. In the meantime, as newer publications (mostly online) do away with the ridiculous idea that a party can be fully impartial, the community of people who consume and share and spread and make and comment on the news are going there. Because that's where "the news" is best presented.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 1st 2009 10:57am
from the free-speech-ain't-so-free dept
Even odder is that the rules now prohibit NFL referees from using social media, ever. Apparently, some of this is in response to a ref who apologized online for a blown call in the week after it happened. In that case, the ref is an attorney during the week, and apologized via his work email. But that raises all sorts of questions. What if the ref's job during the week requires the use of social media? And, honestly, what's so wrong with letting refs communicate?
Finally, the new rules tell the credentialed media that they can't provide any sort of live "play-by-play" info via social media, though, I can't see how that's enforceable (other than kicking the reporter out of the stadium). Once again, this seems like part of the league's misguided belief that it can control how reporters report on a game. The first link above notes how ridiculous it is that someone sitting in the stands can easily live tweet a play-by-play, while the professional reporters cannot. The whole idea, of course, is that the NFL wants to "protect" its broadcasting contracts, that get sold for a ton. But the idea that a live tweet somehow replaces a TV broadcast is ridiculous. Personally, as someone who follows a bunch of sports reporters on Twitter who do tweet info during sporting events, I find it a useful reminder that I wish I had the time to watch a game...
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 25th 2009 2:08am
Associated Press's Continued Delusion: Social Networking Guidelines Require Employees To Delete Other People's Content
from the hello,-let-me-explain-to-you-the-web dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 4th 2009 12:27pm
from the modern-media dept
The thing is... when I heard the original broadcast that caused the problems... I actually really liked it. Davidson is a smart and knowledgeable guy who's spent an awful lot of time digging into issues around the economic crisis to get to the bottom of them, and he had a reasonable point that he was trying to make, based on all of that knowledge -- and he challenged Warren on it. The reason I liked it was that it was a reporter actually challenging someone on something, rather than simply letting it stand. This is something that has been missing from reporting in many cases. It's what Jay Rosen has referred to as "he said/she said" reporting -- where a reporter asks questions to elicit a story from multiple parties, but never tries to ascertain if either story is true -- but just presents what the various people say. Davidson wasn't doing that. He was actually claiming that it seemed like Warren was trying to stretch the purpose of her job to do something that didn't necessarily fit in the role. And it was great to see a reporter actually say to someone "that's not true" because it felt like someone was finally getting challenged (no matter whether you feel Warren is in the right or not).
It was quite clear what Davidson's position was -- he laid it out -- and he challenged Warren, and it made for an interesting discussion. The whole idea that reporters must "keep their opinions to themselves" doesn't seem to make much sense. If someone is talking to a reporter and saying stuff that the reporter believes is wrong, don't they owe their audience the courtesy of digging deeper? I was impressed by Davidson, and am actually a bit disappointed that he backed down so quickly. It actually makes me wonder how much Planet Money will push back on people who state stuff that the Planet Money team feels is wrong in the future.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 29th 2009 1:50pm
from the sense-of-entitlement dept
"Print journalists consider it plagiarism. Broadcasters call it a "rewrite."Condensing 800 words down to 50 words is not plagiarism, if the word "plagiarism" is to have any real meaning, of course.
Here's how it works in nearly every news market in the country. Print reporters do research and interviews for a story that ends up being about 800 words or so. Broadcasters rewrite and condense the paper's story to around 50 words - sometimes adding their own audio or video - then present it as their own."
The person complaining the most is Seattle's Tri-City Herald editor Ken Robertson. He's careful not to use words such as "stolen" and only goes as far as to say his stories were "lifted." Which makes sense because even he knows he has absolutely no copyright claim on the news itself. But if he knows that, exactly what is he complaining about? That he didn't get his pat on the back when an important news story got wider coverage?!
And I'm reminded of the recent postings involving Aretha Franklin and the producers of Britain's Got Talent. Franklin, the producers, and any newspaper writer got exactly what she or he bargained for. Franklin looked fashionable. The producers got paid for producing their show. And a newspaper writer got paid for writing stories. Why should they be given any credit beyond that? Franklin didn't make the hat fashionable. The producers did not make Boyle an incredible singer. And newspaper writers do not create news, they report on news. The sense of entitlement on such issues is quite bizarre."
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 24th 2009 10:39am
from the how's-that-working dept
However, (and here's where it gets funny), another mainstream source, Bonnie Erbe, of US News & World Report, used Penn's report to write an article trashing bloggers. And yet, pretty much everything she accuses bloggers of doing, she or Penn do themselves:
They are the technology age's equivalent of reporters and columnists, but without the degree of separation that used to protect readers and consumers from being targeted for commercial or political purposes, that old-fashioned edited newspapers and magazines used to (and to a limited extent, still do) provide.Hmm. So, it's the bloggers who are sneakily providing commercial or political messages... and not Mark Penn, a political pollster and corporate PR flack being able to write his own biased, poorly fact checked and often just incorrect article in the "prestigious" Wall Street Journal? And Erbe simply believes this professional spinmaster over those who actually have some knowledge and experience with what he's talking about... and then claims it's the bloggers who are likely to write for commercial or political purposes? Wow.
The problem is, veracity is deleted and placed in the trash bin. Unverified opinion is taking its place. Well-written, fact-checked opinion has a storied place in journalism history. But off-the-cuff, on-the-take opinion does not. Yet there is much more of the latter on the Internet than the former.Yes, again, she seems to have gotten it exactly backwards. In this case, it was the WSJ article where "veracity" was deleted and placed in the trash bin, replaced by Penn's unverified opinion. Meanwhile, the well-written, fact-checked opinion came from (oops) the bloggers she now accuses of not doing it.
The column goes on to say that the way to generate traffic to an Internet site is to make it as outrageous as possible. "Outrageous" on the Internet usually comes in one of two forms: 1) pornography or 2) wildly unsubstantiated, extreme opinions.Hmm... wildly unsubstantiated, extreme opinions like "Internet, Bloggers' Half-Truths Are Killing Newspapers and Journalism" (which happens to be the title of Erbe's writeup here...)
The fact that, as Penn discloses, some bloggers are making as much as $200,000 per year and many of them are doing so by shilling for companies or selling consumer goods is downright scary. Consumers need a filter. They need to know if someone is saying something just to grab one's attention, or touting a product because that person is being paid by an advertiser to tout it.How much does Mark Penn make shilling for companies? Isn't that scary?
I used to be friendly with a woman who quit a high-level job at a cable news organization because she insisted on the old "two source" rule. That rule, observed by all reputable news organizations, insisted that no one could publish or broadcast a source story, unless that story was confirmed by two independent sources. The cable network wanted to put on air stories based on information from one source and she quit rather than comply. How old-fashioned of her!So, let's see... Erbe bases this entire article on a single source (which was proven wrong by multiple other sources) and "goes to press" with it, and then says that "all reputable news organizations" observe a "two source rule," which she totally ignores herself. How new media of her!
Honestly, reading her complaints about bloggers and realizing she commits every single one of them, while missing out on the fact that it was the "bloggers" she dismisses who actually provided the credible analysis and reporting on this story, would make me think that her piece was pure satire. But, looking over her other columns, it doesn't appear that she's the satire sort of person. Or perhaps I'm wrong. I haven't checked that with two sources, so clearly I'm part of the crew that's destroying journalism. But I'm sure fond of irony.
by Timothy Lee
Tue, Sep 2nd 2008 10:10am
from the doing-less-with-more dept
You regularly see people in the newspaper business, as well as some professional media critics, complaining about the terrible consequences of falling advertising revenues in the mainstream media. There seems to be a worry that as the Internet makes the news business more competitive, traditional media organizations won't be able to afford to do "real" reporting any more. It's not a crazy argument, but more often, the opposite seems to be true. Take the recently-completed Democratic Party convention. Ezra Klein points out that there were a ton of reporters who had to justify their presence at the convention, and so rather than focusing on what was happening on the stage (which they could have just as easily done by watching it on TV) they wandered around looking for trumped-up controversy to cover, giving undue attention (in Ezra's view) to a few disgruntled Clinton supporters. Meanwhile, Matt Yglesias points out that CNN appears to have flown its stars to Denver, put them up in hotels, and constructed an elaborate new set for them, all so they could "cover" the convention in precisely the same way they would have covered it if those same stars had stayed at home in Atlanta or DC. Far from having inadequate resources, on the most high-profile news stories, the mainstream media seems to squander vast sums of money on things that only marginally improve the quality of their coverage. There are a variety of factors that may be undermining the quality of mainstream media coverage, but at the moment, a lack of resources doesn't seem to be among them.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 30th 2008 11:54am
from the whoops dept
However, what really does reflect poorly is the news that China hasn't dropped the filters at all. Journalists are complaining, but apparently the Chinese censors and the IOC have come to a compromise: China won't censor any Olympics websites. Unless they mention Tibet or something. In other words, China hasn't really loosened the Great Firewall at all.