When Apple CEO Steve Jobs put the New York Times at the center of the ceremonious unveiling of his company's iPad tablet device, the implication was clear: this is the future of the news--or at least Jobs wants us to think it is. He stands to gain not only financially but politically as Apple becomes a major gatekeeper for information.
The news media industry itself is divided on whether e-readers like the iPad and the Amazon Kindle can revitalize the news business. Newspaper sales are, after all, at historial lows. Over 90 newspapers failed last year.
While there are scores of competing theories for why newspapers (and books to a lesser extent) are seemingly on the decline, a prominent and plausible one seems to be that they have lost control of their content. Aggregators like Google News have provided news consumers with faster, more reliable sources for news. The proliferation of the blogosphere has loosened Old Media's grip on that news.
A spokesperson for MSNBC told Politico today that the channel's brass has reprimanded David Shuster for derisive tweets he directed at James O'Keefe Tuesday. Within hours, he had retracted portions of his tweeted comments on air during an interview with Andrew Breitbart.
This humble blogger documented the Twitter exchange yesterday, and pointed out that Shuster was much quicker to assume O'Keefe's guilt than he was the guilt of Major Nidal Hasan, the shooter at Fort Hood.
“The comments were inappropriate. We have talked to David about them," said the MSNBC spokesperson, referring to a series of tweets that included this one: "a) you are not a journalist b) the truth is you intended to tap her phones c) it's a felony d) you will go to prison."
Shuster retracted his accusation that O'Keefe had attempted to tap the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu's office on his show this afternoon after Breitbart blasted Shuster for his false accusations.
Update - 1/28, 10:25 AM | Lachlan Markay: Law enforcement officials have clarified that O'Keefe is not being charged with an attempt to wiretap phones. Will Shuster issue a retraction?
It's often said that bias shows through in what journalists decide to cover or not cover. So it was telling when Politico's Michael Calderone tweeted today, "@DavidShuster just said he's off to New Orleans to report on the O'Keefe arrest." "He's giddy," added Mediaite's Steve Krakauer.
Shuster's Twitter account, meanwhile, was lighting up with scorn for activist filmmaker James O'Keefe, who was arrested yesterday after an alleged attempt to tamper with phone lines in an office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). After O'Keefe tweeted, "I am a journalist and the truth will set me free" yesterday, Shuster responded: "a) you are not a journalist b) the truth is you intended to tap her phones c) it's a felony d) you will go to prison."
So Shuster is personally invested in O'Keefe's fate and convinced not only that he tried to tap Sen. Landrieau's phones--a contention that the affidavit does not support, not that that has stopped others in the mainstream media from reporting it as fact--but that he is, without a doubt, guilty.
On Twitter, Republicans are absolutely dominant, according to a recent study by a prominent Washington policy analyst. The study found that Republican politicians have far more followers and influence on the micro-blogging site than do their Democratic counterparts.
GOP prominence on online social networks heralds a markedly different trend from the technologically dominant Obama presidential campaign, which outmatched its opponents in virtually (no pun intended) every area of online communications. But necessity is the mother of invention, and having been relegated to the minority both in popular opinion and electoral prominence, Republicans have had to turn to alternative ways to get their messages out.
The Obama presidential campaign indisputably used new media better than any before it to build a virtual army of grassroots supporters, and to wield that army as a powerful tool for fundraising, rapid response messaging, and boots-on-the-ground campaigning.
But the energy that surrounded Obama and his team after the election, and supporters' expectations that President Obama would be the empowering community organizer that was Candidate Obama, fizzled as it became clear--campaign slogans notwithstanding--this administration represented less change then it would have the country believe.
After the election, commentators buzzed about the potential for a small-d democratic upheaval in the American political process that the Obama camp's mastery of new media could bring about. Newsweek summed up the excitement in the lede of an article in late November:
Salon editor Joan Walsh, a frequent contributor on MSNBC, finds the network's "Countdown" host to be lacking in the diversity department when it comes to his guests. Of course, her complaint isn't with Olbermann's refusal to feature guests with whom he could have ideological clashes -- something his nemesis Bill O'Reilly has never been afraid to do -- but the fact that his guests are infrequently of the fairer sex.
The Obama presidency is, for better or worse, the most media saturated administration in the nation's history. Due at least in part to revolutionary changes in the sharing of information, but equally abetted by the president's media-hungry personality and style of governing, Obama's face is just about everywhere these days.
And Americans have noticed. In an attempt to land a spot on a DC-based reality show, the so-called state dinner party-crashers, the Salahis, went where they knew the cameras would be: the White House.
The Obama administration has pursued a relentless media strategy by trumpeting the president on traditional and new media outlets at every opportunity. It's tech-savvy staff has allowed the president to market his message to a wide range of demographics. The strategy was a cornerstone of Obama's presidential campaign, and he has adopted it as a style of governing.
The scandal surrounding the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has provided a number of case studies in liberal media bias. The initial silence of the vast majority of media outlets on the story, the attempts by leftist commentators to excuse ACORN and discredit the group's critics, and Andrew Breitbart's strategy of rolling out video exposes periodically to counter those commentators, all speak to the liberal media paradigm, and activists' efforts to combat it.
Breitbart and his filmmaking proteges James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles have released another video showing an ACORN employee volunteering her help in establishing an underage prostitution business. This employee, Lavelle Stewart, had been trumpeted by liberal pundits as a shining example of ACORN's refusal to aid in criminal deeds. Stewart, they claimed, had refused to help Giles and O'Keefe as many other employees had.
But the new videos (Part 1 video embedded below the fold) tell a different story. "There are ways, people do it all the time," Stewart told O'Keefe when asked if he could launder prostitution money into his congressional campaign. "Yeah there are ways, especially out here in California," she added. Stewart, who works in an ACORN office in Los Angeles, was the latest staffer of the organization to volunteer her services in smuggling underage girls into the country, setting up a prostitution ring with those girls, and laundering the proceeds into a political campaign.
Twitter has announced that it will end a list service that blatantly favored Democratic politicians by attracting viewers to their profiles while excluding GOP officials from the service.
The list service provided new Twitter users with lists of prominent message-posters they might like to follow. Watchdog groups discovered late last month that Democratic officials were prominently listed by the service, and gaining large swaths of followers as a result, while many prominent GOP politicians were excluded.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has since withdrawn his bid for Governor, was one suggested user, and had roughly 1.2 million followers when the Associated Press reported the story on October 27. His opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination also appeared on the lists, and garnered 960,000 followers.
But none of the GOP's gubernatorial contenders appeared on the lists, and all three had fewer than 5,000 followers.
Recent problems with the financial system could be used as a reason for regulators to have authority policing social networking sites like Facebook and other types of electronic communication like text messaging. If Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) CEO Richard Ketchum has his way, that's exactly what will happen.
Ketchum appeared on CNBC's Oct. 27 "Closing Bell" in an interview with the network's NYSE floor reporter Bob Pisani from the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) annual meeting in New York City. Ketchum explained how the Internet and text messaging are unconventional means of communication that pose problems for regulators.
"With all of our kids, they don't talk by phones or certainly directly to each other anymore," Ketchum said. "They talk through the Internet and they talk through text messaging and they talk through Facebook."
MSNBC's David Shuster declared yesterday's fake Chamber of Commerce presser at the National Press Club the "Best prank of [the] week" on his Twitter page shortly before 5:30 p.m. EDT today. He added a link taking readers to the left-leaning blog Talking Points Memo.
A group of liberal environmentalist activists punked some journalists by throwing a press conference claiming to represent the Chamber of Commerce. In the fake presser, the pranksters claimed that the Chamber was reversing its opposition to so-called cap-and-trade legislation.
The Washington Post's new employee guidelines for the use of online social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have sparked a debate over the proper role of new media for journalists, and the objectivity of major media outlets generally.
The Post's new guidelines, handed down from on high by Senior Editor Milton Coleman, disregard the potential of new media to engage readers in a conversation about the paper's reporting. Rather, the new social media policy attempts to buttress the Post's supposed objectivity, at the expense of journalistic transparency.
The Post's rules forbid employees from "writing, tweeting or posting anything—including photographs or video—that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility" and prohibit "the discussion of internal newsroom issues such as sourcing, reporting of stories, decisions to publish or not to publish, personnel matters and untoward personal or professional matters involving our colleagues."
If the cheers of Columbia University's Class of 2009 are any indication, the future of journalism will be looking for a federal bailout.
Washington Times correspondent Christina Bellantoni live-tweeted today's event, noting the remarks from university president Lee Bollinger appealing for more government-owned media outlets. Bollinger also received "big cheers" for his call for increased spending on public broadcasting.
Here are the relevant tweets from Bellantoni's feed in reverse chronological order (emphasis mine):
Update #2 (16:15 EDT):Greg Hengler of Townhall.com has video of the interview mentioned in my first update. He notes that while Brewer is hot under the collar, the student she talked to didn't seem to care that Obama was not receiving an honorary degree tonight.
Update (14:45 EDT): A few minutes ago Brewer pressed an ASU student for his thoughts on Obama not receiving an honorary doctorate. As usual, she was quite irate at the perceived snub.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer is bound and determined to maintain a grudge on behalf of President Obama against a university at which he's honored to give the Class of 2009 commencement speech this evening.
Yesterday Media Research Center President Brent Bozell sat down for a chat via Skype with Breitbart.tv "B-cast" anchors Scott Baker and Liz Stephans. You can watch the video here or in the embed below the page break.
The topic: preliminary findings in an MRC study on the media's treatment of President Obama's first 100 days.
Remember how the media told us throughout 2008 that then-candidate Barack Obama had the most "tech-savvy" presidential campaign in U.S. history? And who can forget all the buzz during the transition period about how the president might have to part company with his Blackberry due to Secret Service security worries. To the media, Obama was light years ahead of any Republican when it came to the Web.
Well, with the 100-day mark right around the corner, it seems new media experts are only giving the 44th president a gentleman's C when it come to his communications shop's take on the WhiteHouse.gov Web site and the Obama administration's signature Recovery.gov Web site.
Reports the National Journal's David Herbert, the chief complaints seem to be that the Obama team sees the Web as a propaganda tool, not a way to genuinely engage citizens with their government and its elected chief executive (emphasis mine):
"...i know i'm a journalist, and i should be objective...but she is an ignorant discrace and she makes me sick to my stomach," E! News anchor and managing editor Giuliana Rancic wrote on her Twitter page at 10:01 a.m. EDT today. Rancic of course was referring to Carrie Prejean, who in the interview portion of the Miss USA contest on Sunday evening gave a defense of traditional marriage that riled openly gay contest judge and gossip blogger Perez Hilton.
Rancic later clarified her earlier remarks in a Tweet a few minutes later:
sorry i wasn't clear...i was referring to miss california as a disgrace. life is short. everyone deserves to love & be loved.
Going on right now: the first-ever "Twitterview" between Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a mainstream journalist. McCain is being interviewed by ABC's George Stephanopoulos. You can follow the debate by checking out the @SenJohnMcCain and @GStephanopoulos feeds on Twitter.
Update (12:53 EDT): Below is a transcript of the interview, courtesy of MRC intern Mike Sargent. Sargent also noticed that at least one conservative observing the interview shot a message to Stephanopoulos objecting that Sen. McCain was misrepresenting his votes on the AIG bailout.
MCCAIN: Twitter interview with George S at noon.
STEPHANOPOLOUS: @SenJohnMcCain Happy St Patrick's Day! First things first: How do u tweet -- dictate or type? Blackberry or pc?
Washington Times White House correspondent Christina Bellantoni has online conservatives a-Twitter with some overheard snippets of a Helen Thomas interview, including what may well be a racially-tinged joke about Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.).
breaking Helen Thomas tells filmcrew Bush worst POTUS in history, "too many people are dead" in Iraq sez Kennedy, Johnson best #whpresscorps
Coming from someone who constantly complains about how many soldiers President Bush "killed" by invading and occupying Iraq, it's odd that Thomas considers two Vietnam era presidents to be among the best presidents in American history.
A few moments later Bellantoni added a tweet that hinted at a racially insensitive crack Thomas may have made about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R):
There's no other way to describe the over-the-top political correctness that leads a major newspaper to issue a prophylactic apology for an unoffensive cartoon in the anticipation that someone somewhere will raise a fuss.
Yet that's what the Washington Post did yesterday in a correction posted on page A2 of the Sunday edition (via Jossip):
So Gene Weingarten from The Washington Post wrote an article called "Monkey Business" about men and women and their sexual fluidity, based on that New York Times trend piece from a couple weeks ago. But since the title of the article had the word "monkey" in it, and the accompanying picture was of a cartoon monkey, WaPo needed to clear up any misconceptions vis-a-vis The Post cartoon and our current president.
CNN's Veronica De La Cruz is looking for biracial Americans planning on attending the Obama inauguration to potentially interview for a documentary project she is working on.
[Update: De La Cruz informed me that the documentary project is separate from her work at CNN]
Posted at her Twitter page a few minutes ago:
Re: Inauguration: If u know anyone who's going -- who is mixed race/ bi-racial and would be interested in being interviewed, pls contact me!
I'm sure De La Cruz won't have trouble finding Obama fans who fit her criteria. If you know of conservative or libertarian critics of Obama who happen to be biracial and plan on attending the inauguration you can let her know on Twitter @VeronicaDLCruz.
Speaking of Twitter, you can follow me there @KenShepherd.
One of the hottest Internet videos during the mortgage and banking crisis has been a YouTube clip titled "Burning Down the House," which outlines the untold story of how liberal Democrats pressured banks and lenders to throw standards out the window and give money to people who couldn't pay it back.
Try watching it now, however, and you won't be able to, thanks to the growing problem of "flag spam," the practice of abusing online filter systems to squelch political speech with which one disagrees.
We've all seen spammers at work in our e-mail inboxes. Experts estimate that 90 percent of all e-mail messages nowadays are spam, or unsolicited commercial e-mail.
Luckily for most of us, the majority of it gets filtered out. That's caused the more sophisticated spammers to change course and target a more vulnerable part of the Internet - the hugely popular Web sites like YouTube, Digg and the blogosphere, where anyone can join the discussion by posting videos, essays, reviews and other content.
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
Wikipedia, the community-edited encyclopedia that anyone can revise, is one of the Web's biggest success stories. What you may not know is that it also has become an important player in the political world.
Started in 2001 on a shoestring budget, Wikipedia now ranks as the ninth most popular Web site in the U.S., according to Internet ratings company Alexa.com, outpacing such "old media" stalwarts as CNN, ESPN and the New York Times. (It's even more popular worldwide, where it is currently the seventh most-read site.)
This popularity makes Wikipedia very interesting in a political context, particularly because its pages are highly regarded by most Internet search engines. Chances are, if you look up the name of most any state or national politician, the Wikipedia entry on him or her will be in your top three results. In some cases, such as those of President Bush or Vice President Cheney, Wikipedia's article actually beats out the official government biography pages.