Phil Hall writes in the Media Industry Newsletter that today's journalists are mediocre and the writing is poor. He counts off several reasons why that's the case, including number three: blogs. Blogs, he says, are nothing more than "hit-and-run" journalism.
As any editor and/or publisher will attest, finding qualified writers is too often the proverbial needle-in-the-haystack search. This is particularly acute in attracting entry-level journalists who are straight out of college and are eager to make their mark in the business. But while editors and publishers grit their teeth and dig through the piles of curriculum vitas, perhaps it is time to ask a question that many people would prefer not to acknowledge: Why are there so many mediocre writers coming into journalism today? The answer can be divided into four parts....
After hearing that Sami Al-Arian confessed to a dirty laundry list of terrorism related activities, I was eager to see how the liberal St. Petersburg Times would handle the story. Today they posted an editorial about "The Real Al-Arian," writing about all the horrible things he has done and lies he told. But is that an accurate account of the role the Times played in defending him? Maybe when you consider it is a newspaper that employs a former ACLU director as a columnist and has a Huffinton Post contributor for a reporter and an F.B.I. wiretap exposing a Times reporter acting as Al-Arian's media coach.
With the benefit of this hindsight, hindsight that the rest of us had little problem seeing in foresight, let's take a look at some past quotes. One has to wonder why a huge newspaper with vast resources couldn't see what the rest of us saw so easily.
Robyn Blumner: "...[USF President] Genshaft's stated intention to fire tenured computer science professor Sami Al-Arian due to the swirl of controversy over his activist Islamist views. Here Genshaft cannot deflect blame for besmirching the university's reputation. She made the call, and it's once again the wrong one for academic freedom and free speech...
Neil Young's forthcoming album is reportedly entitledLiving With War; but if you were to look at the home page of Yahoo!, you'd think it was "Impeach Bush." Apparently, Neil's latest effort is a full-on assault against President Bush and the Iraq war, and the folks at Yahoo! are not at all shy in promoting it.
In a linked Yahoo!/CNN video, Yahoo! claims there is a "rebirth of protest rock." Their evidence? Well, there's the Dixie Chicks, Pink, Eminem, and ... Neil Young. Gee, I didn't know Eminem and Pink fit the category of "protest rock." Host Sibila Vargas also claims that these artists "will definitely get our attention." Sorry, Sibila. Not mine.
To be sure, this year’s Pulitzer Prize announcement has generated quite an outrage. Almost universally throughout the conservative blogosphere, the revelation that three of the recipients wrote stories about top-secret military information that conceivably compromised America’s War on Terror met with shock and dismay.
No better example of such disgust was apparent Tuesday than on the radio program of Bill Bennett. As reported by Editor & Publisher: “On his national radio program today, William Bennett, the former Reagan and George H.W. Bush administration official and now a CNN commentator, said that three reporters who won Pulitzer Prizes yesterday were not ‘worthy of an award’ but rather ‘worthy of jail.’" The article continued: “He identified them as Dana Priest of The Washington Post, who wrote about the CIA's ‘secret prisons’ in Europe, and James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times, who exposed the National Security Agency's domestic (a.k.a. terrorist) spy program.”
The annual Pulitzer Prize awards announced Monday night, by Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, rewarded Washington Post and New York Times reporters who exposed -- and thus undermined -- secret anti-terrorism efforts, as well as a Washington Post critic who mocked Vice President Cheney's outdoor apparel and ridiculed the supposed 1950s-era clothing worn by then-Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' kids. The Pulitzer board gave the “Beat Reporting” award to Dana Priest of the Washington Post “for her persistent, painstaking reports on secret 'black site' prisons and other controversial features of the government’s counterterrorism campaign.” The “National Reporting” award was won by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times “for their carefully sourced stories on secret domestic eavesdropping that stirred a national debate on the boundary line between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberty.” The duo infamously penned the damaging December 16 article, “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts.”
Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan grabbed the “Criticism” award “for her witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism.” In a January 2005 piece featured by the Post in a new page created to showcase her Pulitzer-winning work, Givhan complained that at a gathering of world leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Dick Cheney “was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.”
in the NYT this morning concerning the run-off election of disgraced former
Congressman Duke Cunningham’s congressional seat has a curious number of
liberal activists quoted, when compared to the number of those from the other side of Cunningham's corner.
Before we get to the bias, here is the line-up of “experts:”
Polisci. prof. Stephen Erie, Dem. Congressional Caucus leader Rahm Emanuel,
MoveOn.org executive director Eli Pariser, leftwing blogger Markos “Screw them”
Moulitas (aka Kos), and some unnamed “analysts” that have high hopes for
Democrats in the district. There was one Republican quoted.
David S. Hirschman, online editor of Editor and Publisher, wonders what newspaper editors can do to "reclaim their power as arbiters of public taste." With the advent of blogs, no longer does a "small coterie of journalists" decide what is important. It's not likely that ten years ago Editor and Publisher would have admitted publicly the power wielded by so few editors and TV heads, but now the cat is out of the bag.
In the past, in the days of ink-stained wretches and typesetting, it was the editors and publishers who set the news agenda. A small coterie of journalists decided what was most important, what went on page one, what was to be emphasized day after day. In effect, they would separate the important from the superficial, and could to large degree push what they wanted to and create the "water cooler" issue of the day.
Of course, this is still true to some extent. The New York Times' Bill Keller, the Washington Post's Len Downie, and the Los Angeles Times' Dean Baquet still determine what tens of millions of Americans will wake up to every morning on their doorstep, or go to bed with online the night before.
Poor John Green. The executive producer of ABC’s weekend “Good Morning America” broadcasts got a month-long involuntary vacation after his private e-mails were exposed saying “Bush makes me sick,” and that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has “Jew shame.”
Once the e-mails were publicized, the people inside the media were agitated. How many of them are equally guilty? How many people inside the liberal media send snarky anti-Bush notes to each other every day? The New York Times lamented the “chilling effect.”
As the Meredith Vieira incident shows us, network anchors and talk show hosts can display their biases off the air by where they go and speak...or march. At the tail end of "Hardball" Thursday night, MRC's Geoff Dickens found MSNBC host Chris Matthews promoted Rosie O'Donnell and her new HBO documentary on her gay-family cruises. But the real eye-opening part for media watchdogs was Matthews admitting he spoke at an event for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-left lobbying group, in Philadelphia. (Sure enough, here's a picture, with the Matthews mane in a frostier phase. And wow! See another media speaker, NPR "Fresh Air" hostess Terry Gross, whose show originates from Philly.) Matthews explained:
CBSEvening News anchor Bob Schieffer praised Katie Couric’s selection as his successor in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer aired during the 4pm EDT hour, and again in the 7pm EDT hour, of Thursday's The Situation Room. As MRC analyst Brian Boyd reported here, CBS correspondent Andy Rooney appeared on the April 5 Imus in the Morning radio program, where he told Don Imus that he was "not enthusiastic" about Couric’s hiring, and that "I don’t know anybody at CBS News who is pleased that she’s coming here." When Schieffer was asked about Rooney’s comments, he politely disagreed with his colleague.
Bob Schieffer: "Well, if he says he didn’t know anyone I, I hate to tell you, Andy, but you must have not talked to me, because I’m pleased she’s coming here, so I’d have to question you on that. You know, I, I learned a long time ago that I let everybody speak for themselves. That’s Andy’s view. That’s what, you know, that’s what Andy does. He, he speaks his mind. I, I just don’t agree with him. He’s a great friend of mine but I don’t agree with him on that."
As Katie Couric announces she is jumping from NBC’s “Today” show, which she’s co-hosted for 15 years, to the anchor slot of the “CBS Evening News,” Edward Wyatt gamely argues in Thursday’s Business Day how Couric actually has roots as a hard news reporter (“Coming Back to Hard News”) and carried those over to her Today show segments, which Wyatt repackages as “tough assignments.”
“But she has showed that she can handle tough assignments with aplomb and has been unafraid to take certain risks.”
Those admirable “risks,” in Wyatt’s view, are composed of Couric putting a condom on a model of a penis, bringing a camera to her own colonoscopy, and criticizing a former Klansman.
Yesterday it was made official, Katie Couric is leaving the "Today" show on NBC to anchor the "CBS Evening News." While some CBS employees have been less than welcoming -- Andy Rooney for example -- for the most part CBS reporters have been good soldiers in promoting the company line. But, on this morning’s "The Early Show," co-host Harry Smith went above and beyond the call of duty in narrating a piece that was so laden with praise, it could have been mistaken for a eulogy. Take the following quotes for example:
Harry Smith: "Does Katie have the gravitas to anchor the evening news, to be the go-to guy, so to speak, on breaking news? Absolutely. Did you see Katie on 9/11? Have you seen her interview a president? She makes the powerful, uncomfortable, and makes real folks feel at home."
Reuters organized a panel discussion between a blogger, journalists, and a U.S. military spokesman. They couldn't agree on much, except that the coverage of Iraq is either too positive or too negative.
U.S. media coverage of Iraq is too polarized between "good news" and "bad news" and all sides are missing out on a complete picture, participants in a panel discussion organized by Reuters said on Wednesday.
That was one of the few points of agreement between journalists, a professional blogger and a U.S. military spokesman gathered in New York to discuss media in Iraq.
"If you write a 'good news' story from Iraq you are immediately identified as an apologist for the administration ... and if you write something critical then you're in the other camp," said Roger Cohen, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune who was recently in Iraq.
Geraldo Rivera, fresh from protecting children from the evils of hunting, decided to let America know how he REALLY feels about former House majority leader Tom DeLay. In the closing moments of the April 4 edition of Geraldo Al Large, Rivera opened the final segment with this monologue:
Rivera: "For me, the scariest man in American politics was never the Vice President, however intimidating Dick Cheney’s Darth Vader image may be. Now for the last decade, the real chiller that has been the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas. He's been the dark lord of Congress. And now he's gone."
Could NewsBusters be Matt Lauer's guilty pleasure?
Have a look at the two screen captures. The first depicts Pat Buchanan's Today show appearance of March 24th. You'll note that NBC sought to pass Buchanan off as a "Republican strategist." That bit of false packaging elicited this NewsBusters entry, taking NBC to task for its attempt to lull viewers into believing the show was presenting a balanced panel [Buchanan was paired for the day with former Clinton spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers].
Now look at the second screen shot, from Pat's Today show appearance of this morning, his first since March 24th. Today ditched the "Republican" tag, neutrally and accurately labeling Buchanan an 'MSNBC political analyst'.
Perhaps I was reading into things in light of the rampant speculation about Katie Couric's possibly imminent departure for the CBS Evening News anchor spot. But this veteran Today watcher sensed a distinct mood of nostalgia on the set this morning.
Katie Couric was back after a couple weeks vacation, and all the crew members went out of their way to remark on the reunion of the regular cast. Beyond that, there was something in the air as somber as Katie's black outfit, as if the cast sensed this might well be the last week they were together as a unit.
Lauer: "Haven't seen you for a couple of weeks. Good to have you back." The pair jokingly shook hands as if they were meeting for the first time.
Do you support rigorous measures to strengthen border security and tighten immigration controls? If so, you're probably a 'nativist' - read racist - or a rube, or very possibly both.
Don't believe me? Just ask Neal Gabler. Here's what he had to say on this evening's Fox News Watch:
"The conservative nativists, and maybe that's a redundancy, thought they had a winner here. What a great issue they have," he said sarcastically. "You can beat up on aliens and get all of those white folks for the 2006 election."
Conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton weighed in with two points of note:
"Bloggers like Mickey Kaus and Michelle Malkin have made the point that the MSM, especially the LA Times, hid the most inflammatory element of those pictures from their readers and viewers by not showing the profusion of Mexican flags and highlighting the relatively few American flags."
Regular readers of this column know the delight that has been taken in skewering Ellen Ratner for her loopy liberalism, as here, here and here.
You can thus imagine my surprise when, on this morning's 'Long & the Short of It' segment on Fox & Friends Weekend, Ratner offered up some tough talk on immigration. Ratner's remarks were simpatico with the take of Jim Pinkerton, the Newsday and Tech Central columnist who represents the conservative side of the equation.
An aside: Pinkerton is one of the rare conservative commentators willing to roll up his sleeves on government reform. Have a look at his recent TCS column regarding a radical cabinet re-organization proposal by former GOP congressman Bob Walker that would shrink the number of cabinet departments from fifteen down to five.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is using the recent spate of immigration protests to remind their media bosses that it's very insensitive -- and inaccurate? -- to describe undocumented immigrants as "illegal aliens."
As protestors march in the streets and debate intensifies in Congress over how to fix the nation’s immigration laws, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls on our nation’s news media to use accurate terminology in its coverage of immigration and to stop dehumanizing undocumented immigrants.
NAHJ is concerned with the increasing use of pejorative terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. NAHJ is particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word "illegals" as a noun, shorthand for "illegal aliens". Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use "illegals" in headlines.
Here is an incomplete exchange printed in the NYT between Dobbs and a representative of the racist and separatist organization known as La Raza, or “The Race.” That translation is omitted by the NYT, replaced instead by the nicer sounding phrase “civil rights organization:"
This followed by just a day a confrontation between Mr. Dobbs and a guest on his own program, Janet Murguia, the president of the Hispanic civil rights group National Council of La Raza, during which he lectured her on immigration policy.
"I want you to look me right in the eye, and I want you to hear me loud and clear," Mr. Dobbs said to Ms. Murguia, who replied, "I'm right here."
Is Neal Gabler jealous of Helen Thomas' status as a leading Bush media antagonist? You might think so, judging by the barbs Gabler aimed Thomas' way on this evening's Fox News Watch.
In discussing Thomas' pointed exchange with President Bush during this past week's press conference, Gabler, whose sole regular media job would seem to be his weekly appearance on Fox News Watch, did claim that Thomas' question as to the president's motivation in invading Iraq was a good one. But Gabler prefaced that comment by gratuitously observing: "Helen has asked dumb questions in her time."
Gabler later referred to Thomas as "a dotty old woman."
Today’s Washington Post provided an ideal example of news priorities in the mainstream media. Howard Kurtz’s piece on the resignation of Ben Domenech, “Post.com Blogger Quits Amid Furor,” earned a spot on the front page of the Style section. However, the Post’s own story about a former member of the Maryland Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pleading guilty to dirty political tricks was buried inside the Metro section. (For the record, since the Post changes story locations in its editions, those page numbers were confirmed from the Post’s own Web site.)
A "revelatory" article by Elisabeth Bumiller in today's New York Times article is laden with unanswered questions, assumptions and peculiarities.
Beginning with the lede, we get the “theme” of the article – the “erosion” of President Bush’s political capital.
“President Bush said Tuesday that the war in Iraq waseroding his political capital, his starkest admission yet about the costs of the conflict to his presidency, and suggested that American forces would remain in the country until at least 2009.”
The big question on the mind of certain New York Times reporters is one that has been repeatedly answered over and over with a resounding “No.” Well we can dream, can’t we?
In an attempt to portray the White House as disorganized, in constant conflict, lost, and on the verge of a “shake up,” Elisabeth Bumiller and Adam Nagourney again show that the NYT is reporting news it wishes to happen, rather than what actually has happened.
“President Bush's suggestion on Tuesday that he may add a new senior figure to his White House team raised questions about the future of two of his closest and most powerful aides, Andrew H. Card Jr. and Karl Rove, as they struggle to put Mr. Bush's White House back on course.”
When a conservative book comes out, the author usually spends some time talking about the media. The NewsBusters Book Review will provide excerpts from these passages and/or interview authors to learn what they think of the media and explain what they wrote.
During the 11pm hour of the March 21 Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper moderated a discussion on the media’s coverage of Iraq. Among those featured in the debate was Baghdad bureau chief for Time magazine, Michael Ware, who asserted that the "main winners" in Iraq were al-Qaeda and "superstar of international jihad" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Cooper started off the debate by asking conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt why he believes that the public is only hearing bad news out of Iraq. Hewitt slammed the media:
"Anderson, I think the coverage of the Iraq invasion right from the start, all the way through to the present day, has been abysmal in the mainstream media...A lot of new media that goes to Iraq, whether it’s Michael Totten, whether it is Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, whether it’s Victor Davis Hanson or Laura Ingraham or, especially, Robert Kaplan, whose book, Imperial Grunts, is must reading on this, report back enormous progress being made in the country."
Ware sounded defensive as he went after those who dared to criticize the media:
"All of these critics who are saying that we’re not telling the good news stories, I’d like to know just how many of them have spent any time here on the ground? Or any of these people who are reporting the good news from within the belly of the U.S. military, how much time have they spent on the Iraqi street?"
The United American Committee is planning a permanent protest, starting on April 30, of the new Al-Jazeera news network planned for the U.S. and English speakers worldwide. Called Al-Jazeera International, it will feature mostly British and American former MSMers. The group calls Al-Jazeera's American plans "Jazeeragate," and wants the demonstration at the studio to "continue daily indefinitely."
Al-Jazeera, the television network that many call the propaganda wing of the radical Islamist movement in the world, is scheduled shortly to launch their network in English aimed at Americans with their new studios being in Washington DC. The United American Committee objects to the establishment of the network in America; "It's as if Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minster for Hitler, were to have set up a station in America during WWII." says Lee Kaplan, member of the UAC executive committee. Al-Jazeera plans on launching their 24 hour 7 day a week channel in America this spring. In response, the UAC is calling for a 24 hour 7 day a week protest in front of the Al-Jazeera studios to begin Sunday April 30th and continue daily indefinitely. The new studio of Al-Jazeera America is located at 1627 K St. NW, Suite #200, Washington, DC 20006.
The group explains why it doesn't like Al-Jazeera.
In October 2002, North Korea publicly admitted to having a nuclear weapons program (see here and here). This was a clear violation of the 1994 agreement it made under the Clinton administration not to seek to build nuclear weapons. (By the way, there may be evidence that President Clinton knew as President that North Korea was breaking its promise [see this]).