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Online journalism and Yahoo! A mobile news service is a bold move

By Brian McNair

downloadYahoo’s new business model appears to be taking shape, following the surprise announcement that the NASDAQ-listed search and mobile App tech-giant has employed a group of well-known and high-profile journalists and editors to staff its own news portal.

For Yahoo, it is a move into quality mobile content with a news focus, in an attempt to win the mobile advertising market. The question is: will it work?

The key hire is the award-winning and sometimes controversial Katie Couric, who will leave her prime time role at the American ABC network to join Yahoo.

According to Yahoo, Couric will be its “global anchor”, hosting a monthly interview program on the portal and across several mobile applications.

But why would a second-ranked search engine and internet portal want to buy into news and serious journalism at a time when the industry appears to be tanking financially?

The investment in Katie Couric and senior reporters from The New York Times signals that Yahoo wants to move into Web TV and mobile video content in an effort to take on the the giants of American network and cable television, and perhaps even Netflix, which is rumoured to also be looking at an Australian launch next year.

In recent months Yahoo, which is valued at around US$35 billion, has made a series of takeovers, mainly of internet start-ups like the micro-blogging site Tumblr.

But analysts think that it is still figuring out how to turn a profit from these acquisitions. Tellingly, Yahoo’s share of online advertising (about 7%) is still behind Facebook (8%).

Recruiting Couric to be the new face of Yahoo’s news operation is a signature move by relatively new CEO Marissa Mayer. It is a calculated – though risky and expensive – play to get a stock market bounce for the company and attract eyeballs to the mobile platforms, which in turn should attract advertisers.

In recent statements Mayer has said the company’s future is in mobile delivery.

However, mobile is on “the right path” to be on according to Mayer, rather than an instant boost to advertising revenues. Digital plays take a while to turn from money sinks into profit centres. Tech company analysts tend to agree that the asking price for online and mobile advertising will remain low, even though the number of eyeballs is steadily increasing. Read more at Smart Company.

Never Dull: How Chris Christie carefully cultivates the media

By Howard Kurtz

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Jan. 30, 2012.AP

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Jan. 30, 2012.AP

You don’t have to charm the press to win the presidency.

But it doesn’t hurt.

And that’s why Chris Christie is such a fascinating case study in massaging the media.

Mounting a White House campaign can be overwhelming, and pols who are accustomed only to the modest scrutiny visited on governors and senators are often blinded by the searing spotlight.

Bill Clinton got gentle treatment from the Little Rock press corps, but in 1992 was hit by the national media over Whitewater, Gennifer Flowers and avoiding the draft. But he didn’t hide from the press—I remember being on a late-night campaign flight where he talked and talked to a group of reporters, some of whom just wanted to catch some shut-eye but were afraid of missing something.

John McCain spent eight or nine hours a day fielding questions from journalists on his bus in 2000, to the point where we sometimes ran out of  material and wound up talking about movies and sports.

That same year, George W. Bush, in his compassionate conservative phase, enjoyed chatting with his media regulars and bestowed nicknames on many of them.

Mitt Romney, by contrast, avoided his press corps, seemed uncomfortable around reporters, and ran a campaign that often ignored journalistic questions. That was a missed opportunity for a challenger.

Look for Christie, assuming he runs in 2016, to passionately engage with the media (as you might have guessed when he did four Sunday shows after winning reelection). That engagement will sometimes be contentious, but chances are it will never be dull.

The best way to get a sense of how Christie’s approach to the media is to examine how he deals with New Jersey reporters. Matt Katz, who now covers the governor for WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio, lifts the curtain for Politico:

“The local reporters get our own unique treatment—revealing, off-the-record, end-of-summer beers at Jersey Shore bars and profanity-infused Christmas party conversations at the governor’s mansion. But we also get our own unique abuse: We know what it’s like to be put in the ‘penalty box,’ as Christie calls it, briefly shut out from the inner circle for writing something Team Christie hates. And we’ve all been dressed down in State House hallways by Christie’s chief spokesman, Michael Drewniak, an expert at channeling his boss’s fury.

“Christie likes to tell crowds at press conferences that I must have pissed someone off at the Philadelphia Inquirer to get the Christie beat, but he’s lying. He knows he fulfilled his promise from that first day we met: ‘We’re going to do our best to keep you entertained.’”

In diary form, Katz recalls what Christie said at the 2011 presser when he announced he wouldn’t be running for president:

“The only regret I have is that I’ve given such great TV exposure to some of the local reporters. I mean, who’s gonna have Katz on TV now that I’m out of this race? Nobody is gonna have Katz on TV. He won’t be able to get on News 12 for God’s sake.”

A savvy pol plays off his press corps, and Christie is no exception:

“Christie uses reporters the same way comedians use those in the front rows at stand-up shows. The back-and-forth amuses him, amuses his staff, amuses us (sometimes). We also act as his foil, tossing the alley-oops for the sound bites that land on the gubernatorial YouTube channel. The clips are emailed to every political reporter in America and likely a few county Republican chairs in Iowa…

“My biggest competition is not other reporters; it is the man himself. He is his own news outlet.”

There is a downside to this approach, of course. A man who is his own news outlet risks overexposure. The more he’s sparring with reporters, the greater the chance that he will say something dumb, creating a YouTube moment that he wouldn’t want on his channel. And there’s a chance his argumentative style may not wear well.

On the other hand, we’re guaranteed to be entertained. Read more at Fox News.

Australian News Media Ignore Launch of New Political Movement in Australia

he Australian Alliance was launched as a new political movement in Australia but was ignored by all news media networks

he Australian Alliance was launched as a new political movement in Australia but was ignored by all news media networks

If it wasn’t reported in the news media, it didn’t happen. Only it did happen, and was reported at first via social media last night live via Twitter and via Adelaide’s new independent news service the launch of a new independent political alliance in Australia.

Although the event took place in the very center of Adelaide, capital city of South Australia, in the Convention Centre and was announced and circulated well in advance, not one Australian news network reported it. The one Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation knew of the important event and chose not to give it any mention.

The Australian Alliance which brings together experts, activists, and campaigners across a wide range of issues of paramount importance to the Australian people but largely ignored by the established political parties, was launched yesterday afternoon with various speakers from the Alliance addressing the hall.

The Alliance was fully aware of the likelihood of being completely ignored by news media here given that the media are, along with the established political parties, opposed to independent politics, the rights and best interests of Australians, and reporting facts and events of importance to Australia but which threaten their monopoly.

This awareness was brought into full view of all those attending the launch as speakers addressed this issue and informed the hundreds of supporters of the Australian Alliance that rather than rely on that mediawhich has already exposed its opposition to Australian interests and peoples long ago, the Alliance had formed its own news media partnerships most notably with Adelaide’s new independent news service which in turn supplies news to Mathaba.

Mathaba being the world’s number one ranked independent news agency is able to break the censorship within Australia where issues of vital importance to the Australian people are either ignored or disinformation propaganda is put into place to keep people in the dark about those issues. With Murdoch’s News Corp already having beencaught in panic over the launch of alternative media in Adelaide, it’s non coverage of the launch of the Australian Alliance did not surprise. Read more at

India: When the media makes news

By Seema Mustafa

FRANCE-INDIA-MEDIA-WOMEN-CRIME-SOCIAL-FILESJournalists are sinking to new lows, with the Tarun Tejpal case still reverberating through India.

The media itself is obsessive about the coverage, almost as if the publicity will atone for his sins. But all said and done, Tejpal is the symptom of a malaise that is becoming deep-rooted, and afflicts almost all media houses in one way or the other.

Journalism, a great profession, has fallen into disrepute because the media houses have moved away from the serious business of news-gathering into the world of power, advertisements, glamour, mega-festivals, as editors and anchors and owners acquire celebrity status. One recalls the days when newspapers like The Statesman and The Patriot refused to give bylines for even exclusive stories, looking at anonymity as an asset.

While this might have been a little harsh for reporters seeking some recognition (after all, this is all that one had in an era where wages in Delhi newspapers were as low as Rs 500 a month), the reversal today has really come as a major blow to serious journalism. Everyone wants to be a celebrity, preening and prancing in the limelight, even as hard and fair reporting takes a backseat altogether.

Proprietor-editors set the tone, and all others follow. Mixing business with journalism is a bad idea, as the latter eventually loses out, with the moneybags dominating. Governments now do not need to impose censorship, their capitalist cronies do it for them, determining who or what should be written about on a daily basis. And given media houses’ fascination for the big bucks and high voltage celebrity events, the industrial houses manage the last word and news is eventually tailored to specific requirements.

The editors today are no longer the Mulgaonkars, Edatata Narayanans, Frank Moraes, Kuldip Nayars of yesterday. And that is certainly not an issue, except for the fact that the standards have fallen as have the priorities.

For those named above, and many others of that tribe, news was a drug, facts sacrosanct, and professionalism a bare essential. They refused to compromise on these basics, and as young reporters, we were witness to many an argument between the professional editor and the management about the placement of advertisements, indeed even the content of advertisements.

These men (unfortunately very few women even then in top positions) stayed till the newspaper went to bed, guiding the process throughout the day and well into the early hours of the morning. There were no glitzy events, no glamour, just serious work tailored by the realisation that news could make or break individuals and institutions, and hence a heavy responsibility rested on the editorial teams to check and re-check the facts. Read more at The Free Press Journal.

Indian media: Papers back strong Japan ties as royal couple visits

From the BBC.

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are meeting top Indian leaders

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are meeting top Indian leaders

The royal couple is in India on a six-day visit amid hopes of infusing some much-needed vigour in trade, nuclear and defence relations.

“Emperor Akihito’s visit marks the start of a new era in India-Japan relations. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe will follow the emperor to India next month, when several deals will be sealed, perhaps one on nuclear cooperation too,” says the Deccan Herald.

The paper stresses that India realises the value of the visit and “is pulling out all the stops to make the imperial visit special”.

An article in The Times of India highlights the importance of strong relations between the two Asian economic giants.

“They (Delhi and Tokyo) have a congruence of views on many issues – economic and strategic, not only to actively cooperate in several infrastructure projects of immense importance for India’s growth story, but also to join hands to foster shared interests in the vital, and sensitive, strategic domain, including maritime security,” it says.

Despite the mutual warmth, the Indian government faced some embarrassment on Saturday after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office misspelt the Japanese empress’s name on Twitter as “Kimicho”,The Indian Express reports. Read more at the BBC.

Glenn Greenwald and Bill Keller Are Wrong About Objectivity in Journalism

By John B. Judis

A debate has been raging for 50 years or more over whether journalists should try to be “objective” in reporting events or describing controversies. It flared up recently in an exchange in The New York Times between former editor Bill Keller and uber-journalist Glenn Greenwald. And even thousands of miles away, I haven’t been able to avoid it.

At a conference on the media this week sponsored by the United States Studies Centre of Sydney University, I was asked several times whether I thought journalists should strive to be “objective.” I have a simple answer to this question: yes. And that’s because I reject the assumptions that many people now make in asking this question.

The fashionable answer today is that there is no such thing as objectivity. Greenwald, for instance, writes, “Human beings are not objectivity-driven machines. We all intrinsically perceive and process the world through subjective prisms.” Keller also rejects objectivity as a model. “I avoid the word ‘objective,’ which suggests a mythical perfect state of truth,” he writes. Instead, Keller prefers impartiality as a model.

There is an old philosophical fallacy at work here that goes back to the works of the 18th century Irish philosopher George Berkeley. The discussants are transporting terms that have understandable meanings into a metaphysical realm where they do not. If you say that there is no such thing as objectivity because we “process the world through subjective prisms,” you can only have known this if you were able to compare objective reality with what you perceive through your subjective prism, but you can’t know this because by your own formulation objective reality is unknowable. This is not just a puzzle or a paradox, but an indication that the assertion itself is nonsense.

If you leave the realm of metaphysics and use the term “objective” the way that, outside of classrooms, it is usually taken, then it makes perfect sense to talk about some judgments or perceptions or descriptions being more or less objective than others. That’s a tipoff that “objective” does mean something. A judgment that is more objective is one that is less shaped by one’s prejudices, hopes, fears, and wishes, and vice versa for less objective. And every journalist has examples at hand. They come particularly easy to people who cover politics.

When I used to do “man-in-the-street” interviews to judge who was ahead in a race, I often had to recognize afterwards that I had asked questions and picked out people to interview who would confirm my hopes that the Democrat was going to win. It happens all the time, but it’s also not inevitable. You learn to question your assumptions; you write second and third drafts; you listen to a taped interview again; editors ask questions; and so do fact-checkers. And sometimes, as a result, you are able to write things that are accurate—and in this sense, objective—even if they don’t accord with your hopes and wishes. Will they be “perfectly objective”? This is a metaphysical dead horse comparable to asking whether a circle drawn on paper to do a geometry problem is “perfectly round.”

What about Keller’s insistence that impartiality is a better standard than objectivity? As Greenwald suggests, this kind of standard can lead to misleading journalism. Being impartial most often means not taking sides in an argument between opposed opinions. That’s fine when there is strong evidence on both sides, and when the reader is not really interested in what the reporter or researcher thinks. But there are cases where accepted scientific findings are at stake, or where the reporters, or researcher is in a position to know that one side of the argument is false. In that case, a reporter can do a disservice by suggesting that the arguments for or against, say, human-caused climate change or Barack Obama being born in the United States are of equal weight. There is a difference, in other words, between being objective and being impartial.

What about Greenwald’s defense of “activist” journalism? Greenwald writes, “All journalism is a form of activism. Every journalistic choice necessarily embraces highly subjective assumptions—cultural, political or nationalistic—and serves the interests of one faction or another.” Greenwald wants journalists to disclose their “subjective assumptions and political values” in reporting on the news—the assumption being that the reader will then be able to judge better the accuracy of the story.

To evaluate Greenwald’s position, you have to distinguish between normative judgments about what ought to be done and analytical judgments about what is likely to happen, or about what, given accepted ends,  is a viable means of achieving them. Almost all journalism—unless it consists of publishing transcripts or stock quotations—involves making analytical judgments. But the question is whether all journalism implicitly or explicitly involves advocacy, and if or when it does, whether the author’s positions should be disclosed.

I would say something different here from Greenwald. Yes, journalists (or policy experts) usually have a rooting interest in what they write about, but it need not shape what they write. That’s the whole point about objectivity—and the role of editors and second drafts.  On a psychological level, too, a journalist might want to see Al Gore win the election, but he or she might also want to maintain his reputation as a journalist whose reporting can be trusted by Republicans as well as Democrats. One hope might override the other. That’s what professionalism is about.

As for whether writers or television reporters should disclose their political values, I think that depends on whether we are talking about a reporter working for a large newspaper or network or a quasi-independent operator like myself or Greenwald. With a newspaper like The New York Times, the credibility of its coverage rests ultimately on the publication’s reputation for objectivity rather than on the reputation of individual authors. It would be tedious and misleading for, say, political reporters to begin each of their election accounts by saying who they would vote for.

Political writers known for their byline more than for the publication they work for have to build trust largely by their own efforts. In these cases, it is sometimes superfluous to disclose what one advocates, because one’s politics are generally known. Most people who read me know that I would be happy if a third or more of American workers belonged to unions, but if they think that everything I write about unions will be designed to buttress this conviction, I will have failed as a journalist and will be seen merely as an “activist” or “lobbyist” for a cause. So I have to be willing to write that the labor movement is in trouble. I even make a point occasionally of saying in an article, “I would like to see X happen, but I’m afraid that Y is more likely.” That is supposed to demonstrate my own objectivity. Read more in the New Republic.

Public editor: What readers think of Rob Ford and the media coverage

By Sylvia Stead

web-ford-fridayI asked readers Thursday to let me know their thoughts on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the media coverage, especially since comments have been closed on the stories for legal reasons. I received dozens of e-mails and thank you for those. I will write a separate blog post soon on the question of closed comments, but for now, there is a split between readers who think the media is savagely attacking the mayor, and others who think reporters are doing the right thing.

Those comments are below, but first let me answer questions from one reader who wondered:

– “I noticed that after Rob Ford admitted to his crack use the majority of headlines changed the perspective from ‘the Rob Ford Scandal’ to ‘The Rob Ford Crisis’. It’s a very clear change in tone and uses two words that are becoming the norm for media outlets. I’m wondering if there was a clear decision or if you might be able to shed some light on why the change of terms.”

I don’t know whether there was a specific decision to change the term from “scandal” to “crisis,” but I think given the news – especially the repeated calls from municipal politicians that Mr. Ford should step aside or have his powers reduced – the crisis description is fair.

– “In regards to your comments about photographing Ford’s children while trick-or-treating. In your article you said that if the request from Ford came to not photograph his children, that reporters probably would have respected those wishes. Unfortunately, I disagree with you… On Thursday when Chief Blair was set to release information to the public, the cameras flocked to Ford’s house in the morning and swarmed on to his property. Yes, Ford freaked out, but the reporters were all the way up his driveway with no respect whatsoever for his property. It was reminiscent of paparazzi and it left me wondering what kind of rights they would respect if they wouldn’t even stay off his driveway.”

His children were not present and, in fact, I am told his wife and children left earlier in the day and they were not photographed. It’s worth reminding readers that photographers do have the right to take news photographs while standing on public property (such as a sidewalk), but if they were asked not to be on Mr. Ford’s private driveway, in my view, they should comply.

– “If you know that media scrums allow the speaker to pick which questions they will respond to, why is there not an effort on the journalist side to have some sort of order to the questioning? We know that Ford will either ignore or lie about them either way, but why not at least try to work as a singular unit? Everyone is reporting the same information after all.”

The media is not a single unit, but a group of competitors working for different outlets and they try to get an answer to the question they feel is most important. However, in a sit-down news conference, where either the subject or someone else recognizes one outlet at a time, reporters are given one question and one follow-up and the answers tend to be more complete and focused.

Here now is a sample of other comments from readers:

From time to time wildlife photographers capture a herd of wildebeest on the African veld being chased by a pack of hungry hyenas. Through crafty and well-practiced manoeuvring, the hyenas single out their target. First, they circle the wildebeest to slow him down, yipping and yapping and and confusing him. This serves to separate the wildebeest from his herd, and his fellow herd-mates run even faster in order to distance themselves and escape what could be a similar fate. All of this is, of course, instinctive. The hyenas are intent upon devouring the wildebeest. At first the wildebeest thinks he has a fair chance of escaping. And so does the observer. We see that the wildebeest is bigger and appears to be more powerful. But then the hyenas close in, nipping here and nipping there, attacking from the side, attacking from behind, jumping at him and biting his heels relentlessly. They just don’t give up. The wildebeest turns this way and that , trying to defend himself but he soon realizes he is outnumbered and then exhaustion sets in. In due time the hyenas have him on the ground, biting and pulling and succeeding in killing and disemboweling the wildebeest and in fact, having him for lunch.

Does any of this sound familiar? Read more in the Toronto Globe & Mail.

Tina Brown Slams Journalism, Says It’s Having a ‘Very, Very Pathetic Moment’


tina-brown-618x400Tina Brown, outgoing editor of the Daily Beast and former editor of the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Newsweek, doesn’t even read magazines anymore — nor does she think too highly of journalism at all.

Brown told the audience of a THiNK conference in Goa, India on Friday that she is basically done with journalism, which she said is currently having a “very, very pathetic moment” and has turned into advertising in order to try to make a profit.

“Editorial outfits are now advertising agencies,” she scoffed, according to the Hindustan Times.

“The digital explosion has been so explosive,” she added. “There isn’t a single place where the digital thing is a profit thing. The disruption hasn’t brought a business model.”

Television isn’t doing much for Brown, either. “TV is dead and now they are chasing a demographic they are never going to find,” she said, adding the televisions have become “an ugly piece of furniture.”

One business model she does think has potential is those live conferences, or “theatrical journalism” as she once put it, which she is leaving the Daily Beast to focus on exclusively with her new company, “Tina Brown Live Media.” Read the rest at The Wrap.


‘The Bully Pulpit: Roosevelt, Taft, and Journalism’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin

By Heather Cox Richardson

AP956222704386The January 1903 issue of McClure’s Magazine was the high-water mark of the Progressive Era investigative journalism known as muckraking. Muckrakers took on the corruption of turn-of-the-century America, digging into the pernicious influence of money on politics. Americans had long suspected that rich men bought the government. What else could explain the legislation that enabled industrialists to amass fortunes while their uneducated employees — including children — lost their youth, often their eyes or arms, and sometimes their lives on the work floor?

Muckrakers gave definitive shape to those vague suspicions. Deeply researched studies into the many facets of the link between business and government by journalists Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker and Lincoln Steffens galvanized regular Americans and inspired them to retake their nation.

In “The Bully Pulpit,” Doris Kearns Goodwin charts the vital role the muckrakers played in creating the popular will to force political change in early 20th-century America. To reveal the journalists’ impact, she compares the presidencies of two great friends, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, bright, able men both, whose different relationships with journalists meant that one launched the Progressive Era and one was destroyed by it.

The muckrakers gave life to their arguments by highlighting individuals; like them, Goodwin illuminates the story of politics and journalism by focusing on Roosevelt and Taft. They were both born into wealth in the late 1850s, only 13 months apart, but their childhoods made them into very different men. Roosevelt’s open-minded family, wide-ranging education and determination to overcome his early physical weakness helped him become an explosive and commanding man who craved information and believed that the world revolved around him. Taft’s parents emphasized order and conventionality, and their hearty son grew up insecure and eager for friends, which, being a kind soul, he found easily.

Their careers reflected their contrasting personalities. Roosevelt thrived on excitement and action, throwing himself into a race for a seat in the New York State Assembly as soon as he graduated from Harvard. His penchant for public battles over reform fueled a meteoric rise. In 1889, a federal appointment took him to Washington, where he befriended Taft.

Taft had proceeded deliberately through law school and then obtained a series of ever more prestigious judgeships. He hated the rough and tumble of politics and loved the deliberation of the courtroom, where learned men sifted evidence and decided the law.

While Roosevelt’s second wife, Edith Carow, provided the stable home life that her volatile husband needed, Nellie Herron, who was far more adventuresome than her staid spouse, had to prod Taft into politics. In 1901, he became the governor general of the Philippines. Three years later, Roosevelt made him secretary of war.

As Goodwin traces the journeys of Roosevelt and then Taft to the White House, she explores their relationship to muckraking journalism, personified by the mercurial S. S. McClure. A manic and brilliant publisher, McClure found great writers and pushed them to illuminate corruption not with sweeping condemnations but with painstaking research and careful writing. Led by Tarbell, this talented community of like-minded reformers exposed the rot at the core of industrial prosperity, revealing government offices sold for a price, robber barons who colluded to ruin their smaller competitors, industrialists who cheerfully destroyed their workers and poisoned consumers, and union workers who occasionally killed scabs. This was a new kind of journalism that shocked middle-class readers and inspired them to fight back. Read more at the Washington Post.

Ford scandal an improbable case study in how the media might find their way back

By Simon Houpt

It turns out that news matters, after all.

For years, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Doug, have scored dependable political points by attacking the news media. They have underlined their disdain as hosts of their own chat show on Toronto radio station NewsTalk 1010, where they got to choose the callers and the subjects. (On Friday afternoon, NewsTalk announced the station and the brothers were parting ways, effective immediately.)


The news industry is a soft and easy target for populists these days, famously on the ropes because of plunging advertising revenues, shifting reader habits and a slow erosion in audience trust.

But something unusual happened this week: The crisis affecting Mr. Ford’s administration, and the way it was covered, began to look like an improbable case study in how the media might find their way back.

While the new conventional wisdom holds that audiences prefer news outlets that emphasize strong points of view – through columnists, pundits or even satirical takes – this week, it was the facts, first, that people wanted to hear. Papers and broadcast outlets across the political spectrum struck a strange, almost unprecedented, unified stand, knowing the cascading news developments would keep audiences coming back for more.

At the Web and mobile sites of CBC News, page views were up 20 per cent week-over-week on Tuesday, the day Mr. Ford made his startling admission of crack use. On Thursday, four of the top 10 stories there were about Mr. Ford. At the the Toronto Star, the first to obtain a 77-second video showing a ranting Mr. Ford, traffic shot up. (The Globe and Mail had similar spikes.) The Huffington Post said traffic to its politics hub was twice its usual average.

Some of the traffic was driven by unusually high interest from around the world. CNN, The Guardian, BBC and The New York Times all sent correspondents to Toronto. Anderson Cooper interviewed the Star’s Robyn Doolittle, one of three reporters to have seen the so-called crack video.

To be sure, not all of the coverage was straight-up. For three nights running, comedian Jon Stewart mocked Mr. Ford’s travails, even if he paused at one point to note that it would not be nearly as fun to eulogize the mayor. Canadian audiences could not get enough: The Comedy Network says The Daily Show pulled in its largest audience of the current TV season on Tuesday, an average of 275,000 viewers, hours after Mr. Ford made his stunning confession. Within Canada, YouTube says searches for “Rob Ford” and “Jon Stewart” spiked like stalagmites.

And with outlets such as the Star and CBC (and The Globe) competing for hourly scoops with Mr. Ford’s most stalwart media ally, the Toronto Sun, there was little need for their pundits to tell people what to think. (Still, there was plenty of that, too.)

It may be fitting, then, that the week ended with Mr. Ford losing the unlikely perch he had used to beat up on the media. Since February, 2012, the Ford brothers had enjoyed a two-hour block of Sunday afternoon air time on Newstalk 1010. The show The City had been a bunker for them, a comfortable place from which they could broadcast their message to supporters without interference. “You’re going to get the straight goods from Rob and I,” Doug Ford had told one of the station’s hosts last year, when the show was announced. “You aren’t going to have the media twisting it around like they’ve been twisting it around for the last year and a half.”

At noon on Friday, the station issued a terse statement: “NewsTalk 1010, Mayor Ford and Councillor Ford have mutually determined to conclude broadcasts of The City, ending with last week’s show. Of course, Mayor Ford and Councillor Ford remain welcome at any time as guests on NewsTalk 1010.”

Warnings from whistleblowers past

By Lauren Kirchner

Following Edward Snowden’s leaks to the press about the scope of NSA surveillance,public opinion polls have posed questions like, “Do you think Snowden is a whistleblower, or a traitor?” Regardless of the polls’ results, the fact that a distinction is being made between the two terms is progress, according to Dana Gold, a senior fellow at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), an organization that represents whistleblowers and lobbies for stronger legal protections.

Blowing the whistle on a government agency or corporation—whether it concerns a widespread threat to the civil liberties of all Americans, or a very particular threat to the health of people who enjoy peanut butter—is an enormous, difficult decision for anyone, says Gold. Invariably, it’s also a very isolating experience. So, in an attempt to both clear up some of the misconceptions surrounding whistleblowing and get students thinking about these difficult issues before they enter the workforce, GAP organizes a nationwide “Whistleblower Tour.”

Over the past three years, the tour has brought an impressive roster of notable whistleblowers to colleges across the country. This year’s tour is especially timely and relevant, of course; Snowden’s story has inspired public awareness of—and debate over—whistleblowing in general, and the fraught but fundamental relationship between whistleblowers and the press, as no other whistleblower has before. (In fact, some of the Whistleblower Tour speakers recently went to Russia to visit with Snowden, laterreturning home to DC to deliver a message from him at the rally against NSA surveillance organized by the Stop Watching Us coalition.)

Historically, government and corporate whistleblowers have suffered reprisal not only from their employers and the government, but from the broader public as well. There is a common public misconception that whistleblowers would have blanket legal protection if they would only go through “proper channels” with their complaints. So, this line of thinking goes, if whistleblowers reveal wrongdoing to the press rather than discreetly speaking to their bosses or a trusted member of Congress, they must be in it for the fame or the money.

“I think some people think that there’s one law, like Title VII, that protects whistleblowers, and there isn’t,” Gold says. There is a certain amount of whistleblower protection built into the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, recent amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, and so on—many of which GAP worked closely on—but there are still far too many exceptions and loopholes, says Gold.

“It’s a patchwork of legal protections that depends on what you’re blowing the whistle on, what kind of employee you are, who you made the disclosure to, the kind of reprisal that you suffered… you can easily fall through the cracks.” (Snowden, for instance, wouldn’t have been covered by any whistleblower protection law; national security employees are completely exempt.)

Often, during “Whistleblower Tour” events, the conversation turns to how these whistleblowers think about their delicate dealings with the press. A panel discussion at Florida International University last month featured NSA whistleblower Thomas Drakeand Justice Department whistleblower (and now GAP National Security and Human Rights Director, and Drake’s attorney) Jesselyn Radack. Both described the vital role of the press, in not only helping expose the problems they fought to expose, but also in saving them, individually, from the harshest reprisals.

When Drake saw evidence of “waste, fraud, and abuse” at the NSA, he initially worked through the “proper channels”—first speaking to his superiors, and then, privately, to intelligence committee members in Congress. He and colleagues spoke at Congressional oversight hearings and submitted a report to the Defense Department Inspectors General. The concerns were not addressed and no action was taken, except for retaliation against him by his bosses. So he took the next step in a series of elevating risks, by reaching out to a reporter. Columbia Journalism Review.

News Corp bias against Kevin Rudd showed up in independent study, diary reveals

By Mark Kenny

Subject to media bias: Kevin Rudd. Photo: Wayne Taylor Read more:

Subject to media bias: Kevin Rudd. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Kevin Rudd’s repeated claims of systematic anti-Labor bias in his treatment by News Corporation newspapers ahead of the September election were fuelled by an independent assessment of media reporting commissioned by the Labor Party.

The revelation underlines the extent of frustration within the government as it reeled from its bitter leadership instability and the late switch to Mr Rudd, whom many in the ALP had openly criticised.

The previously confidential study, obtained by Fairfax Media, was undertaken at the request of Mr Rudd’s key adviser, Bruce Hawker, as the pair wrestled with what to do to rebuild the former prime minister’s reputation and improve Labor’s poor communication with voters in time for an election due within weeks.


It found that Mr Rudd was subject to “unfavourable” reporting in The Daily Tele-graph at “over twice the volume of unfavourable coverage of Kevin Rudd and the ALP than The Sydney Morning Herald”.

The analysis, which goes some way to explaining Mr Rudd’s unusually direct references to media bias throughout the campaign, was undertaken by the media assessment and measurement firm iSentia.

It compared 1256 newspaper reports carried in News Corporation newspapers The Daily Telegraph in Sydney and Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail and Fairfax Media’s The Sydney Morning Herald.

The comparison covered three periods starting just before Mr Rudd replaced Julia Gillard in June, then during early- to mid-July, and finally over a fortnight taking in the first few days of the election campaign called on August 4.

“Kevin Rudd was positioned as incompetent in 215 News Corp articles and self-interested in 120,” the study concluded.

“The implied message that Kevin Rudd displays negative personality traits appeared in 143 News Corp articles.”

In his campaign diary published this week, The Rudd Rebel-lion, Mr Hawker makes reference to the study and reveals he had counselled Mr Rudd on more than one occasion during the campaign against repeatedly hitting back at News Corp mastheads during daily press appearances.

Labor MPs were furious at their treatment after The Daily Tele-graph began its campaign coverage with a front page headline on day one of the campaign exclaiming “Finally you now have the chance to . . . KICK THIS MOB OUT”.

Labor insiders also suspected that the coverage in News Corp publications intensified under the influence of veteran New York Post tabloid editor Col Allan.

“Unfavourable News Corp coverage was most prevalent in the last two-week period analysed [July 26-August 9), which coincided with the calling of the election and the arrival of Col Allan at News Corp Australia,” the iSentia analysis concluded.

“Of The Daily Tele-graph’s coverage, 54 per cent [251 articles] was unfavourable towards Kevin Rudd and for The Courier-Mail this proportion was 46 per cent [178],” iSentia found.

“In contrast, 29 per cent [118 articles] of The Sydney Morning Herald’s coverage was unfavourable towards Kevin Rudd.”

However, it also found that the Herald was “the leading source of unfavourable press coverage of Tony Abbott and the Coalition”.

It concluded that overall 42 per cent (or 119 articles) of its coverage of Mr Abbott and his party was “unfavourable”.

Among several other revelations in Mr Hawker’s book is an account of the period immediately after Mr Rudd was replaced in 2010.

Mr Hawker writes that he played a pivotal role behind the scenes on behalf of Ms Gillard during the protracted 17-day period of negotiation to form government with the Greens and two independents. This included helping to convince the previously conservative-aligned independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor to back Gillard over Mr Abbott. The Sydney Morning Herald.

Reporters Without Borders criticises Egyptian media crackdown

By Rebecca Hawkes

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has denounced the recent suspension of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef’s television show, along with the arrest and military trials of journalists in the troubled North African nation.

Those arrested include Islam Fathi, a correspondent for the MBC Masr TV network who was arrested while filming in al-Minya, 245 km south of Cairo, on 21 October. He was tortured and beaten repeatedly by police prior to his release, said Reporters Without Borders.

The authorities have also tried three Egyptian journalists in military courts since the Islamist president Mohammad Mursi was ousted in July, with Hatem Abou el-Nour, a journalist for Egyptian daily Al-Watan, being imprisoned for a year.
“This new wave of threats to freedom of information in Egypt is especially disturbing,” the France-based NGO said.

“Arbitrary arrests and hauling journalists before military courts constitute a danger to basic freedoms, as do prison terms, even if these are suspended. These practices must stop, and journalists still jailed because of their professional activities must be freed immediately and unconditionally.”

The intimidation represents “a continuation of practices in effect since 2011” said Reporters Without Borders, adding that “the successive governments in place since the fall of Hosni Mubarak – the Supreme Council of the armed forces, the Muslim Brotherhood, and today’s transition regime led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – have all been determined to repress the media and control information.”

Complaints were filed against comedian Bassem Youssef, host of the CBC show Al-Barnameg (The Programme), following a broadcast on 26 October in which he was critical of both the Muslim Brotherhood and the new regime, and mocked popular support of the army. Some viewers accused him of inciting chaos, threatening national security and insulting the army.

Some days later, CBC pulled the plug on the 2 November broadcast, just before the second episode of the new series was due to air. The TV network said he had broken some clauses in his contract.

“Complaints against comedian Bassem Youssef and the suspension of his show are especially regrettable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Freedom of satirically critical expression, especially in the context of a humour programme, must have a place in a country that aspires to democracy.”

The trial of former president Mursi and leading figures in his Muslim Brotherhood party began on 4 November. Rapid TV Times.

On the corruption of Egypt’s media

Dr. Fahmy Howeidy

If readers of Egyptian dailies pay close attention to the sources of the published news, they would notice that the most important reports are either attributed to the security institution or to sovereign entities. It is as if Egypt doesn’t have any political sources. This gives the impression that the country’s important news is only available within the surroundings of the security institution. This institution’s infiltration of journalism in particular and the media outlets in general is nothing new.

Those who work in the field know that security apparatuses have planted their men in different newspapers, looked after them for decades and even helped them attain prominent positions. This, we can understand. It’s rather an ordinary measure in any police state especially after media outlets became the most important of means in influencing people’s awareness and brainwashing them. Authoritarian regimes in the past used to control societies through armies and security apparatuses. Media outlets, due to their power of influence, now play a part in this control. Those who read George Orwell’s famous book 1984, in which he depicts the Nazism grip on society, find that the Ministry of Truth, in charge of forging news and lying to the people, represents one of the state’s pillars. This is what Frances Stonor Saunders highlighted in her book The Cultural Cold War. She followed up on the role which the CIA carried out in using the media, in addition to arts and cultural activity, since the beginning of the struggle against the Soviet Union. The security apparatuses’ use of the media has a history that dates back to the years of the Cold War which followed World War II. If this happened before the revolution of telecommunications and information technology, then you can imagine the extent these efforts reached in the wake of this revolution.

In Egypt

Egyptian veteran journalists note that the security apparatuses’ relationship with the media has undergone two major phases. During the first phase, these apparatuses made sure to know what’s going on in dailies through the men they’ve recruited. At the same time, they worked on indirectly and cautiously persuading writers and op-ed authors. During the second phase, they started to use journalists to influence public onion by marketing certain news or adopting certain opinions that serve certain policies. They didn’t settle at persuading op-ed writers. They began to recruit them and feed them what to write. The editors-in-chief’s close relationship with security apparatuses was apparent during both phases. But the relation was one of dialogue during the first phase. And in the second phase, the relation became one of dependency and exploitation.

And since I claim I am one of these veterans, I, and others like me, know of many stories and experiences that support this conclusion I’ve reached. Since the press community is originally a community of gossip, the buzz over the role of men who are affiliated with security apparatuses and who work at dailies never stopped.

I heard from a veteran who worked at al-Ahram that 30 journalists used to write reports about their colleagues in the 1960s. The number probably doubled afterwards. Some of our colleagues succeeded at attaining some of these reports. I do not know how they managed to do that but what I do know is that some of those who wrote these reports have now become famous in the fields of television and journalism. These people’s only talent has always been limited to being loyal to those who recruited them and looking after them until they reached the positions they currently hold.

During the first phase, security apparatuses used editors while editors-in-chief communicated with the country’s political leadership. During the second phase when the politicians’ role decreased, the image became completely different. Security apparatuses began to communicate directly with editors-in-chief. The latter became the former’s eyes and aides. And the editors began to receive semi-daily orders from the members of these security apparatuses. When the situation became as such, everyone’s dependency on security apparatuses became a familiar issue which no one bothered to hide and which no one is ashamed of. read the rest at Al Arabiya.

The Criminalization of Independent Journalism: Truth in Media Categorized as Terrorism

By Washington’s Blog

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

The U.S. government is targeting whistleblowers in order to keep its hypocrisy secret … so that it can keep on doing the opposite of what it tells other countries to do.

As part of this effort to suppress information which would reveal the government’s hypocrisy, the American government – like the British government – is treating journalists as terrorists.

Journalism is not only being criminalized in America, but investigative reporting is actually treated liketerrorism.

The government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws (and here). For example, after Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and thenwriting about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge

After the government’s spying on the Associated Press made it clear to everyone that the government is trying to put a chill journalism, the senior national-security correspondent for Newsweek tweeted:

Serious idea. Instead of calling it Obama’s war on whistleblowers, let’s just call it what it is: Obama’s war on journalism.


  • The Bush White House worked hard to smear CIA officers,  bloggers and anyone else who criticized the Iraq war
  • In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of the bank’s wrongdoing, the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this)

whistleblower-006And the American government has been instrumental in locking up journalists in America (and here),Yemen and elsewhere for the crime of embarrassing the U.S. government.

It’s Only Tyrannical When Others Do It

The U.S. State Department correctly noted in April:

Some governments are too weak or unwilling to protect journalists and media outlets. Many others exploit or create criminal libel or defamation or blasphemy laws in their favor. They misuse terrorism laws to prosecute and imprison journalists. They pressure media outlets to shut down by causing crippling financial damage. They buy or nationalize media outlets to suppress different viewpoints. They filter or shut down access to the Internet. They detain and harass – and worse.

And the State Department rightly announced last year:

We are deeply concerned about the Ethiopian government’s conviction of a number of journalists and opposition members under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. This practice raises serious questions and concerns about the intent of the law, and about the sanctity of Ethiopians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

The arrest of journalists has a chilling effect on the media and on the right to freedom of expression. We have made clear in our ongoing human rights dialogue with the Ethiopian government that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are fundamental elements of a democratic society.

As Secretary Clinton has said, “When a free media is under attack anywhere, all human rights are under attack everywhere. That is why the United States joins its global partners in calling for the release of all imprisoned journalists in every country across the globe and for the end to intimidation.”

Sounds great … maybe we should start with the U.S. and UK?

The ACLU’s Ben Wizner sums up the American and British governments’ attitude towards journalists:

Relax, everyone. You’re not terrorists unless you try “to influence a government.” Just type what you’re told. Global Research.

Disgraced ex-journalist Stephen Glass seeks right to be a California lawyer

By Howard Mintz

Stephen Glass

Stephen Glass

In the journalism world, Stephen Glass was a true villain, perhaps the most renowned fabricator in the profession’s history.

Dozens of his stories in magazines such as the New Republic and Rolling Stone in the late 1990s were proven to be bogus. His level of journalistic deceit became such a national scandal that Hollywood made a movie about his fall, “Shattered Glass.”

But in the 15 years since Glass was caught in his fraud, he has pursued another profession that depends on honesty. And now his own fable of redemption, if it is to be believed, has set a jarring question before the California Supreme Court: Can someone who once built a career on lies be licensed to be a lawyer in this state?

The court on Wednesday will tackle that issue when it considers Glass’ bid for admission to the State Bar, the final stage in an odyssey that began when he enrolled in law school while practicing his journalism charade more than a decade ago.

Not surprisingly, Glass’ quest has stirred mixed reactions.

The Bar opposes granting a license, arguing that he does not meet the “moral character” standards required of lawyers. But two State Bar court decisions have sided with his right to a license, and supporters — from two Washington, D.C., judges to one of the New Republic editors he most defrauded — have vouched for his reformation.

“I have absolutely no doubt he learned a horrible lesson and I have 100 percent confidence this won’t happen again,” said Susan Low Bloch, a Georgetown University law professor who has known Glass since he took her law class in 1997.

Legal ethicists are divided over his case.

“If Glass had been somebody nobody had ever heard of, he would have been admitted years ago,” said Richard Zitrin, a Hastings College of the Law legal ethics expert.

Counters Carol Langford, who teaches legal ethics at UC Berkeley law school: “The Supreme Court is going to have to really think about this one. The Bar has a lot of good arguments to make. I don’t think it’s just about appearance. It’s also saying, ‘We have to set a standard.’ ”

Glass, who now lives in a Los Angeles suburb and is a paralegal at a law firm, has declined interviews. Jon Eisenberg, his lawyer, also declined to comment.

But in court papers, Glass insists he has changed, the result of years of therapy and other self-improvements since he had to admit concocting material in national stories, such as a George magazine profile of Vernon Jordan, a close friend of former President Bill Clinton.

Glass’ supporters argue that as a 41-year-old man well regarded by his law firm, he should no longer pay for the mistakes of a 25-year-old journalist.

“Second chances are an American story,” Glass’ lawyers told the state Supreme Court. “This case is such a story — one of redemption.”

State Bar lawyers, however, say Glass has not done enough to repent for journalistic sins that “tarnished the entire journalism profession,” and they question his sincerity about changing his ways. They note that concerns about Glass’ character kept him from being admitted to the New York Bar in 2004.

“When considering someone with (Glass’) remarkable record of fraud and deceit, the State Bar of California should demand nothing less than exemplary behavior over a sustained period of time,” Bar lawyers say in court documents. “This standard is necessary in a case like this, where an applicant’s past misdeeds compromise the very foundation of the legal profession — common honesty.”

But Glass’ supporters say he has shown remorse and that he has steered clear of trouble for a long time. He has worked for a Los Angeles personal injury firm for more than a half-dozen years without incident, and his boss, Paul Zuckerman, has vouched for him in the Supreme Court and State Bar.

In his Bar testimony, Zuckerman recalled immediately deleting Glass’ résumé when his job application recounted his journalism troubles but then changed his mind.

Now, Zuckerman testified, he considers Glass “my touchstone, my benchmark for honest and proper conduct” in the law firm.

And Martin Peretz, former editor-in-chief of the New Republic when Glass worked there, favors granting the law license, even though the scandal hit his magazine hardest.

“I don’t think what Steve committed, and his journey after, should condemn him to be exiled from respectable, ethical society,” Peretz testified in Bar Court. “I think (Glass) has a great deal of responsibility for (his misconduct), and he has acknowledged it, and he’s suffered for it.”

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him San Jose Mercury News.

Egypt’s Mursi and the media

By Abdallah Schleifer

Former Egyptian President Mursi finally appeared in court, but much of the media did not. TV crews and photojournalists in particular did not enter the courtroom. So, the one or two photos that have emerged of Mursi in his suit, standing with other Muslim Brotherhood defendants in their prison whites, had to have been snatched by camera phones. This illustrates how difficult it is getting to block media coverage, even when doing so is considered a reasonable move.

But, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s call, upon his arrival in Cairo, for “transparent trials” obviously had effect. The decision to let some journalists into the courtroom came after an earlier announcement that there would be no press coverage.

There was a mysterious video uploaded by al-Watan newspaper of Mursi talking to someone for a brief few minutes the night before the trial. It was played that night on an al-Tahrir, the Egyptian satellite channel talk show.

The mystery of the tape deepens in that it appears to have been ignored by the rest of Egypt’s media. The tape itself could conceivably have been shot on a mobile phone during a meeting of Mursi between either relatives , defence lawyers or openly filmed by interrogators.

Mursi’s behavior

Mursi in this tape is relatively composed and reserved, almost fatalistic rather than defiant. So different from his appearance the next day in court, where he kept insisting he was still the president of the Republic, defied the judge, denounced both the military and the judiciary and inspired both his fellow defendants, and well as the Muslim Brotherhood team of defense lawyers, to chant against the army.

All of this behavior – which would never be tolerated during a trail in America and silenced if necessary by police officers as contempt of court – angered members of the Egyptian press, some of whom had been beaten up by MB militants last December. They then started to chant: “Execution! Execution” in response, alluding to the faint possibility of a sentence of death if Mursi is found guilty of inciting murder. Chaos ensued and the judge walked out of the courtroom and adjourned proceedings until January.

Given the treatment of the independent Egyptian media during Mursi’s one year reign – indeed even at that very moment, outside the court room both state and private sector TV crews were being roughed up by pro-Mursi demonstrators – the outbursts in the courtroom are understandable but again point to the partisan polemical state of so much Egyptian journalism.

Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood media in Egypt has been closed down for about three months and the two satellite channels that remain sympathetic to the Brotherhood – al-Jazeera and TRT Arabic (a Turkish state channel) – like any other satellite channels, are not available to that estimated 60 percent of Egypt’s population that cannot afford a satellite dish and receiver. Read more in Al Arabiya.

Why is the media so quiet on protecting journalists and other civilians in warzones?

By Kayt Davies

Hundreds of journalists have been killed reporting on conflicts throughout the world. EPA/Julien De Rose

Hundreds of journalists have been killed reporting on conflicts throughout the world. EPA/Julien De Rose

The news coming out of the ongoing conflict in Syria is tragic and, for many, too horrible to look at for long. While the reportage is appreciated, one can’t help but wonder whether it would be different if foreign correspondent Marie Colvin and the other 32 journalists killed there in 2012 were still alive and reporting on it.

Questions surrounding Colvin’s death remain unanswered. Was the bombing of the house Colvin was working from a justifiable accident, or was she targeted as part of a deliberate strategy of killing the messengers? If she was, then a war crime was committed, and someone should be tried in either a national court or the International Criminal Court (ICC) for committing it.

But there has not yet been sustained pressure from the world’s media calling for an investigation and trial – and this is odd considering how powerful a united campaign by the world’s media could be. So where is the journalistic will to call for justice?

Concerted campaigns by media advocates have, in the past, yielded legal recognition of journalists in warzones. For example, clauses protecting embedded journalists were included in the Lieber Code of 1863, governing the Union armies in the US Civil War. In 1927, the League of Nations endorsed resolutions on the treatment of foreign journalists, and the protection of journalists was hotly debated leading up to the adoption of the international humanitarian law (IHL) Additional Protocols in 1977.

Media organisations including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) run permanent campaigns calling for “something” to be done to reduce the death toll of journalists.

However, a lack of consistency in what they are calling for and who they are calling on, as well as a lack of ongoing support from the industry in the form of publicity sees most of their work languish below the radar of public perception and limits its political clout.

The PEC is a prime example of a distracting and divisive campaign. In 2007, the Geneva-based group launched a proposed international convention on the protection of journalists in times of war, including the adoption of a protected press emblem. Its rationale is that the provisions in IHL for the protection of journalists are “ineffective”.

Famed correspondent Marie Colvin was killed while reporting the civil war in Syria last year. Should more protection be put in place for journalists in conflict zones? EPA/Ivor Prickett

Famed correspondent Marie Colvin 

The PEC claims that it has the support of 50 journalism organisations worldwide, and in late 2012 it won a Swiss Press Club award for “defending journalists across the globe”. However, a closer look at the provisions the organisation is hoping most countries will ratify reveals them to be pie-in-the-sky.

These provisions include requiring military forces to give journalists prior warning of attacks (based on an assurance that journalists would maintain confidentiality while fleeing); the creation of an international commission to investigate breaches; and the funding of an insurance scheme.

The CPJ distanced itself from the PEC early on, declaring in 2005 that the adoption of a universal press emblem is undesirable for a number of reasons, including that it would “require a licensing entity to determine who is and is not a journalist”.

However, the main problem with the PEC is that it is based on the assumption that killing a media worker should be a more heinous crime than killing a teacher, doctor, grandmother, or any other civilian. Read more at The Conversation.

Reddit’s Politics Section Decides Mother Jones Isn’t All “Bad Journalism”


Mother Jones editors Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein have wonNational Magazine Awards, and now they've won back the esteem of one of the nation's most influential politics news sites. Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Image

Mother Jones editors Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein have wonNational Magazine Awards, and now they’ve won back the esteem of one of the nation’s most influential politics news sites. Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Image

The volunteers who run Reddit’s most influential politics section announced Monday that they’ve taken a second look at some of the domains they banned last week, anddecided to reinstate oneMother Jones. The others, including GawkerHuffington Post, the National ReviewReasonSalonThinkProgress, and Vice, are still verboten for the time being.

The moderators apologized again for their handling of the controversy, which began when they added dozens of major media outlets to the “banned domains” list for /r/politics, the subreddit they oversee. The moderators originally explained that they had banned these publications based on user complaints of sensational headlines, “blogspam,” and plain “bad journalism,” but they didn’t give specifics.

I and others criticized the ban last week, pointing out that, among other problems, it seemed bizarre to rule out sites like Mother Jones that produce award-winning investigations while continuing to support links to tabloid machines like the Daily Mail. The moderators first apologized in a post on Saturday, promising changes to the controversial policy.

In their announcement on Monday, the moderators said that three separate reviews of Mother Jones posts submitted to /r/politics had determined that “the majority ofMother Jones content is not problematic.” Still, they took the opportunity to criticize some “sensationalist” Mother Jones headlines, like “16 ways the default will screw Americans.” And they reiterated their opposition to “blogspam” from Mother Jonesand other sites, which they previously defined as “nothing more than quoting other articles to get pageviews.”

The moderators explained that they’re also planning a more thorough review of some of the other banned sites, but that they decided not to unban any others for the time being. “We recognize that our biggest mistake in this policy was doing too much too fast,” they wrote. “We are determined not to repeat this mistake.”

They also rejected the notion that they were simply “bending to the pressure of criticism that MJSlate, and others wrote about this policy,” adding that “many of these editorials had significant gaps in information.” They then cited some examples of gaps in information, though as far as I can tell, none of those apply to either my piece or the interview with Mother Jones co-editor Clara Jeffery published earlier last week in On the Media’s TLDR blog. “Information gaps” aside, they wrote:

The fact is that this policy has flaws. Some of the criticism is correct. Admitting that isn’t bending to pressure; that’s being reasonable.

That’s true, and the moderators’ willingness to reevaluate a big decision in the face of a backlash seems like a good sign for the future of /r/politics. And, just maybe, it’s a promising omen for the future of Reddit as a whole, though it’s important to note that what happens on one subreddit doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the rest of the site. Each subreddit is run by volunteer moderators who take responsibility for making and enforcing the rules for that section. The “bad journalism” fiasco is noteworthy because it highlights how much power these volunteers have to redirect the flow of traffic on the Web, sometimes based on criteria that are ill-defined and poorly understood. On the other hand, the moderators’ relatively quick and mostly level-headed response suggests that they’re not as unaccountable as some of their critics might have feared.  Slate.


Are Photojournalists A Digital Casualty?

By Lou Carlozo

A joke image of the Sun-Times front page circulated on Twitter after the paper dropped its photojournalists.

A joke image of the Sun-Times front page circulated on Twitter after the paper dropped its photojournalists.

It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and photographer Rob Hart lifts a glass of beer at the High Dive, a pub in Chicago’s funky West Town neighborhood. That picture, as they say, paints a thousand words: A few months ago, as a staff photographer for the Chicago Sun-Times, Hart would’ve been too busy shooting pics to hoist pints.

But that was before Hart went from reporting the news to making it. On May 30, the Sun-Times laid off its entire photography staff of 28, including Pulitzer Prize winner John White, in a move management deemed essential to clear the way for more online video. The story sent shock waves through just about every newsroom in North America and far beyond media circles.

News staffs so expert at asking tough questions for a living now had a new, anxious one to ponder: Is the photojournalism we know as much a relic as the musty old darkroom?

“I think photojournalism is coming to a dead end, at least in the way it was practiced in the late 1970s and mid-’80s,” says Mark Hinojosa, director of interactive media at the Detroit News. As a veteran journalist who rose through the ranks as a photographer, Hinojosa says this realization saddens him. And he’s hanging on in Detroit, at least for now.

“We still have a full photo staff,” he says, “but I could easily see a day when the staff is much smaller and it’s used for big events, and the day-to-day stuff will be handled by reporters. It will be OK, but something will be lost. Why? Because a writer doesn’t see the visual potential in a story, and can’t always find something that’s transformative.”

Look beyond the Midwest — where reports of impending layoffs currently dog photographers and reporters at the Chicago Tribune — and you’ll see much evidence that photojournalism has entered its twilight hours.

At Cox Media Group, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will cut its 10 person photo staff in half by Nov. 1, and has offered buyouts at two other papers. And in late August, Reuters dismissed all of its contract sports reporters, replacing its feed with images from USA Today.

The numbers, of course, fail to reflect the human side of the news. “The photo staff was the heart and soul of the paper,” says Hart, who was based in the western suburb of Oak Park, Ill., for the Sun-Times’ Pioneer Press division. “We spent 100% of our working lives interacting with the community. Whether your son was shot in the face, or it was your 101st birthday, we were the ones knocking on the door asking if we could spend time with you. Not to belittle the awesome reporters, but even if you look at photos as the loss leader for the paper, we are the billboard. We get people to look.”

Yet Hart (who’s also an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism) has a wicked sense of humor about it all. Hours after getting the news, he started a blog called “ Laid off from the Sun-Times ,” which begins thus: “Rob Hart was replaced with a reporter with an iPhone, so he is documenting his new life with an iPhone, but with the eye of a photojournalist trained in storytelling.”

Digital To Blame?

The punch line could serve as a poignant clarion call for an industry standing at yet another digital-age crossroad. That is: It’s easier than ever to gather news (and news images) thanks to high-tech gains. As Hart notes, any average Joe with an iPhone can do it. But do newsrooms that move too fast into the future lose storytelling muscle in the process?

Hart and his colleagues think so, and might hasten to add that if video indeed represents the road ahead, today’s photojournalists stand best poised to lead the charge.

If only it were that simple. Read more at NetNewsCheck.

Hillary Clinton not running yet, except from media

By Carla Marinucci

Ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at August's American Bar Association convention, but her speech to Realtors will be blacked out. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

Ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at August’s American Bar Association convention, but her speech to Realtors will be blacked out. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clintonhasn’t even started her 2016 presidential campaign yet – and she’s already shutting out the press.

Clinton’s much-anticipated speech at theMoscone Center on Saturday before theNational Association of Realtors conference, a convention that is drawing 22,000 people to San Francisco this week, will be blacked out – closed to the media.

So will her big fundraiser Saturday night with daughter Chelsea Clinton at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, a “Millennial Network” event to benefit the Clinton Foundation.

The decision to bar reporters from the Clinton speech before thousands of Realtors is “per her team’s request,” a National Association of Realtors spokeswoman said in an e-mail Monday.

Seriously? In San Francisco? The easiest Democratic audience in the country? The region that’s home to Twitter, Facebook and Google?

This is the progressive bastion where the biggest logistical problem at the Realtors convention may be how many chairs to remove so Hillary fans can better prostrate themselves at the feet of the woman considered the leading Democratic contender for the White House in 2016.

This is the place where former San Francisco Mayor and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsomjust announced his support of, an advocacy group hoping to push her to run in 2016.

And this is a speech before a sea of Realtors – all armed with cell phones so they can YouTube it to their clients.

Clinton got a ton of national media coverage in August when she spoke in the same location to the American Bar Association.

Back then, the former secretary of state – making a move that appeared to edge her closer to a 2016 run – promised a series of conversations around the nation to explore issues.

She started that effort in San Francisco, making a strong appeal to protect voting rights that she called “the heart of America’s democratic experiment.”

Uh, not to be picky – but so is a free and unfettered press.

The “off the record” talk at one of the biggest convention centers in the country is an interesting strategy. The closed-door policy isn’t typical of the Realtors conference, which runs Wednesday through Monday.

Federal housing officials and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., are among those who will address the convention in public.

On Saturday, reporters will be allowed to cover the convention’s general session from 4 to 6 p.m. But when Clinton begins her talk, the TV feed to the media room will actually go black, a Realtors association spokeswoman told us.

Clinton’s representatives did not return phone calls seeking an explanation for barring the media from her speech. Read the rest at SFGate.

Political Power of Social Media: The Good and the Bad


As election season nears once again, we start considering the social media strategies politicians might take this time around. Since politician use of Twitter is constantly on the rise, we might wonder: who is going to try to leverage the power of social media this time?

But let’s face it: politics is not a field made for Twitter-esque instantaneous updates. Successful politicians are experts at making sure their words never offend, even when taken completely out of context. This means all of the bland, genial, party-approved “canned speeches” the public is so accustomed to hearing out of our representatives. There really is no room for spontaneity, or the tip-of-the-brain thoughts that are prevalent on Twitter. And when there is, it can result in a public backlash if one is not careful. Yet, Twitter holds one of the largest and most active user bases in the world of social media, which could present huge benefits to any corporation, small business, or politician.

So the question is, are Twitter and other social networking platforms worth the time and devotion needed to help a politician along in a campaign? To address this, let’s look at the pros and the cons involving the political power of social media.

The Bad

Always deliver the bad news first: with updates as instantaneous as they are on Twitter, accidents happen. You might mistake your tweet bar for your search bar. You might hit enter too soon. You might have a battle with autocorrect (hilarious, but embarrassing). Even if you’re the most well-versed in Twitter technology, you can’t ward against accidents.

To make it all worse, the delete button is just a placebo – it makes you think your words have disappeared off the internet, but they haven’t. Especially in the case of a politician with hundreds of thousands of followers, someone will have screenshotted it.

The Good

Politicians are essentially brands in and of themselves. Instead of a good or service, however, their product is the service of leadership and their work is representing the common people to the government. As such, they stand to lose as much as a brand, but they also stand to gain the same amount.

In considering the gaffes above, they could happen to a brand as well. What makes it more difficult to deal with for a politician is the fact that they must keep up a certain type of face to the public. In other words, their “brand image” is static or more difficult to move, whereas a typical brand can change their direction more easily. However, these gaffes are also relatively rare, and will almost never happen if the social media coordinator knows their trade. Read the rest at Business2Community.



Election Day prognostication: The media swoon over Chris Christie

By Howard Kurtz

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduces President Obama from the presidential lectern at Asbury Park, in New Jersey.REUTERS

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduces President Obama from the presidential lectern at Asbury Park, in New Jersey.REUTERS

Every four years, political pundits feast on the the New Jersey and Virginia elections and pretend they have national significance because, well, there’s no other game in town.

But today, one of these contests really will have national reverberations, and it’s not Virginia.

It’s a foregone conclusion that Chris Christie will win reelection by a sizable margin, and the media drumbeat touting him as the GOP’s best chance in 2016 is growing louder by the day.

And the prognosticators will not be able to resist contrasting Christie’s win with the Virginia governor’s race, where the conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, is expected to lose to Bill Clinton pal Terry McAuliffe. But the Old Dominion contest turns on a number of unique local factors, while Christie seems to be positioning himself for the White House run he bypassed last time.

How does the MSM love Christie? Let me count the ways.

–He’s a blustery character who loves to pick fights and uses the S-word in his speeches; he’s fun to cover.

–He’s a Republican who wins in a blue state, and the pundits respect that.

–He believes in working with Democrats—famously hugging President Obama during Sandy—and the MSM swoon over bipartisanship.

–He’s conservative but not a social-issues crusader, making him more palatable to media types who are wary of hard-right figures who focus on abortion, gays and contraception (and who the MSM believe can’t win national elections).

–He’s close to the New York media market, so it’s easier for him to make news (don’t underestimate this).

–Plus, we get to debate his weight all over again.

Now there is, of course, a whole other side to this debate. The more conservative wing of the GOP, which embraces the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, won’t want any part of the governor and his more moderate approach. We tried that with John McCain and Mitt Romney, they will say, and got clobbered. Christie will have to find a way to appeal to the kind of religious and social conservatives who turn out in places like Iowa. Read the rest at Fox News.