No Time to Mourn Old Media
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Many at Journalism Hearing Look Past Doom and GloomA two-day Federal Trade Commission workshop, "How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?" concluded with many participants determined to look past the wreckage of lost jobs and retrenchment in the "legacy" media toward a new era of interactivity and possibility in new media.
"Some partnerships have emerged," Kathy Y. Times, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said, praising the creation of such African American-themed Web sites as theRoot.com, owned by the Washington Post Co.
"The opportunities are endless and solutions can be found within our communities.
"NABJ is laying the foundation for an interactive online network. It will engage the public and serve as a forum for all of our members," particularly those who have "been pushed out the door. We want to offer them that platform," she said. Times said later that NABJ was awaiting grant money to properly equip its Web site for the project.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, said the 100-year-old civil rights organization was "digitizing information for communities and journalists" about civil rights history. Citizens will be able to contribute information about their communities and the material will be available to all via the Internet, he said.
On a Wednesday afternoon panel, Bill Buzenberg, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, disclosed that he is working to expand a project in Africa begun by New York Times computer-assisted reporting expert Ron Nixon. The Ujima Project is an online database of information on the spending and workings of African governments, nongovernmental agencies and businesses operating in Africa. It affords journalists and others access to information previously beyond their reach.
Buzenberg said he was working with Nixon to expand the project to Eastern Europe, East Asia and Latin America.
Still, there was concern about the diversity of voices on the Internet, and how many of them practice true journalism.
Eric Newton, director of journalism programs at the Knight Foundation, said the FTC could be pushing for universal broadband access.
Karen Dunlap, president of the Poynter Institute, told the group, "I'm concerned that we could gain a volume of information and opinion, we could have extensive channels of social interactions and lose the news." She said that "journalism goes well beyond information and observation," citing examples of investigative reporting that have affected lives, such as the Chauncey Bailey Project, created to carry on the work of Bailey, the Oakland, Calif., journalist who was slain in 2007. Others warned that "citizen journalists" are citizens, not journalists.
Local investigative Web sites could fill the gap created when metro newspapers abandoned bureaus, the NABJ's Times said. Charles Lewis, executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication, said initiatives such as the Innocence Project, in which journalism students have produced evidence that freed wrongfully convicted inmates, are being duplicated in several locations.
"Let's spend a little less time mourning the dying patient and more time caring for the baby that is being born," one panelist said.
The workshops were also a forum for unresolved arguments.
"News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said at the FTC workshop that ' media companies need to do a better job of convincing consumers that high-quality journalism isn't free. Good journalism is an expensive commodity,' he said," Brent Kendall and Thomas Catan reported Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, owned by Murdoch's News Corp.
"Mr. Murdoch created a buzz last month by saying that News Corp. may block Google Inc. from searching its news sites. He didn't mention the company by name Tuesday, but criticized Internet sites that profit from reusing news articles published by others without bearing the costs.
"'To be impolite, it's theft,' he said. . . .
"Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, followed Mr. Murdoch and blasted his criticism of Internet sites like hers that collect and link to news content from other providers. Ms. Huffington said her popular Web site drives a great deal of online traffic to The Wall Street Journal.
"'It's time for traditional media companies to stop whining,' she said." Kendall and Catan also reported that FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz "said Tuesday the agency will study whether government should aid struggling news organizations, which are suffering from a collapse in advertising revenues as the internet upends their centuries-old business model."
- Webcast of hearings¬†
- Jessica Clark, PBS: FTC Should Consider Policy Reform to Support Public Media 2.0
- Mark Fitzgerald, Editor & Publisher: 'La Opinion,' 'El Diario' Training Local Bloggers in Reporting - and Sales
- Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post:¬†Desperate Metaphors, Desperate Revenue Models, And The Desperate Need For Better Journalism
- Martin Kaiser, American Society of News Editors: ASNE President Kaiser speaks on accountability journalism before FTC
- Brett Levy, the Journalism Shop: Journalists struggle with finances, retirement after parting L.A. Times
. . . Next: Eastern Europe, East Asia, Latin AmericaBill Buzenberg, executive director of the investigative reporting organization the Center for Public Integrity, disclosed at the Federal Trade Commission workshop on journalism that he is working to expand the Ujima Project, now based in Kigali, Rwanda.
That project's creator, Ron Nixon of the New York Times, elaborated for Journal-isms on Wednesday:
"I'm partnering with the Center for Public Integrity extend the project to those additional areas ‚Äî Eastern Europe, East Asia and Latin America. When I created the project, the aim was to figure out a way to get information to people in countries where they lack freedom of information laws. The idea was to take information about those places that is freely available here and provide an easy way for them to access it. I did Africa first because the idea was born there. Over the years as I trained people there, you'd hear them say they didn't have access to information about some of the things going on in their countries, like how much the government was spending.
"Then I'd show then the lobbying database from the U.S. Justice Department, which shows how much African countries are spending to influence U.S. policy or for image-building. People would be amazed and say, 'Wow I didn't know you could get that kind of info.' Anyway, by teaming up with CPI, the project will have the resources it needs to bring the access to information to the rest of these areas."
The Center for Public Integrity is based in Washington, with offices across a public square from the New York Times Washington bureau.
Austin Fenner spoke on a New York panel while he was still at the New York Daily News. (Video)
2nd Ex-N.Y. Post Employee Files Discrimination Suit"Another former New York Post employee is suing the paper, alleging that he was subject to unfair employment practices and that editors engaged in racially-motivated news coverage," as Sam Stein wrote¬†Monday for the Huffington Post. This time, Journal-isms figures in the complaint.
"Austin Fenner, who was fired from the Post on the same day that former editor Sandra Guzman sued the paper over her own dismissal, claims that he was 'routinely humiliated,' 'openly cursed at' and subjected to 'Jim Crow'-style segregation while working as a city desk reporter," Stein wrote.
"Using the same lawyer as Guzman, Fenner alleges that he too was fired from the paper both for being a minority (he is African-American) and for complaining about racist coverage. Fenner, like Guzman, publicly expressed his disappointment with a Post cartoon that depicted the author of the president's stimulus package as a chimpanzee shot dead by befuddled cops.
"A spokeswoman for the New York Post, in an email to the Huffington Post, said that the allegations were 'totally false and the claims of discrimination completely baseless.' "
In the course of the complaint, the lawsuit says that "After the racist and oppressive cartoon was published in the Post, journalist Richard Prince published an article on his online media website, Journal-isms, on February 20, 2009, condemning the Post for its history of racist practices, including towards its employees.
"In light of his disgust at the Company's decision to publish such a blatantly racist cartoon, Mr. Fenner consented to be interviewed by Mr. Prince as part of the article in Journal-isms. Because Journal-isms is a widely read and well-respected publication covering issues in the media, Mr. Fenner believed that the interview would be an effective outlet to make his complaints about the cartoon known to both management at the Post and to the general public.
"In the article published in Journal-isms, entitled, '3 Things that Need Fixing at the N.Y. Post,' Mr. Fenner was quoted as saying that the cartoon 'churned my stomach when I saw it.'
" . . . Two days later, while Mr. Fenner was on assignment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to cover the highly-publicized appointment of Archbishop Dolan as the new Archbishop of New York, Defendant [Daniel] Greenfield called Mr. Fenner on his cellular telephone and cursed and screamed at him without any provocation . . ." Greenfield is an assignment editor and deputy metropolitan editor.
"Thereafter, in may 2009, Defendants Greenfield and Gotthelf banned Mr. Fenner from entering the Post's newsroom . . ." Michelle Gotthelf is metropolitan editor.
"The complaint filed by Fenner doesn't deliver as many jaw-dropping allegations as Guzman's complaint earlier this month," Stein wrote.
However, it does note that "there is currently only one non-White Editor throughout the entire editorial staff at the Post, and he edits the Business section of the newspaper. Similarly, the Post currently employs only one Black reporter who is in the newsroom on a regular basis."
As an example of using headlines, columns and cartoons "to mock, insult and/or humiliate people of color," Fenner cites a Nov. 1 article "that disparaged Jamaicans by suggesting that the people of Jamaica were 'high' on drugs when their country recently bestowed an honor on Congressman Charles Rangel."
It was accompanied by a photo illustration of Rangel wearing a crown and dreadlocks.
Fenner, who says he is searching for employment and exploring freelance opportunities, told Journal-isms on Wednesday, "I worked incredibly hard in a hostile environment. It was demoralizing and my firing was just plainly wrong. I owe it to myself, my wife and my children to stand up for my rights."
CBS News and Fox News were ratings winners as President Obama outlined his strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan at West Point on Tuesday. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)
CBS Rewarded for Devoting Hour to Obama SpeechCBS News was rewarded for its decision to show President Obama's speech on his war strategy in Afghanistan Tuesday night, drawing the most viewers for the address in the preliminary overnights, Kevin Allocca reported Wednesday for TVNewser. He said 10.16 million total viewers watched between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Eastern time and 8.95 million total viewers during post-address analysis leading up to 9 p.m.¬†
TVNewser said it obtained it obtained an e-mail in which Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, said of the decision to stick with the full hour, "Our philosophy is that the content and quality of our news is more important than the ratings. I will not get into specifics about the numbers here, but I do think that we should all feel good that last night's great work also had a great audience."
Elsewhere on the spectrum, "Cable news viewers chose Fox News Channel over all others for coverage of Pres. Obama's Afghanistan address and post-speech analysis last night," Chris Ariens wrote¬†for another MediaBistro site.
TV One and BET were showing their regular programming.
The divisions in reaction to the speech were reflected in the commentary:
- Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic: The White House Takes On Politico
- Eric Easter, ebonyjet.com: Change‚Ä¶ Is Not as Easy as it Seems
- Alexandra Fenwick, Columbia Journalism Review: The media on everything Obama didn‚Äôt say last night
- Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report:¬†Obama's Af-Pak is as Whack as Bush's Iraq
- Steven Gray, Time.com: The Other War
- Andrew Lam, New America Media: Afghanistan Can‚Äôt Wash Away Vietnam
- Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: The racial divide, again
- Tonyaa Weathersbee, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Black America Needs a War on Unemployment
Everybody Has Advice for, Opinion on Tiger Woods"The auto accident involving Tiger Woods has dominated news coverage since the billion-dollar golfer drove his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and then into a neighbor‚Äôs tree Saturday morning," Kelsey Ramos wrote Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times.
"The three days of silence spurred gossips and rumormongers to speculate about the possibility that the accident may have happened after Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren, quarreled about published rumors of an affair between the golfer and a bar hostess.
"Today, however, Woods issued a long-awaited statement and apology on his website, begging for privacy and denying rumors of domestic abuse. He also paid the $164 traffic ticket issued by the Florida Highway Patrol."
Meanwhile, Keith J. Kelly reported in the New York Post that, "The National Enquirer allegedly caught Tiger Woods in a steamy extramarital affair two years ago, but killed the story in exchange for the golfer doing a rare cover-shoot for its sister magazine ‚Äî despite Tiger's exclusive deal with a rival publication.
"Woods' camp, fearful of a potential public-relations nightmare in spring 2007, allegedly agreed to do a cover for Men's Fitness ‚Äî a magazine owned by the Enquirer's parent company, American Media, former Men's Fitness editor-in-chief Neal Boulton said."
American Media CEO David Pecker dismissed the allegations.
- David Burnett, National Newspaper Publishers Association:¬†A Word to Tiger: Silence Isn't Always Golden
- Eric Deggans blog, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times:¬†Why Tiger Woods' media strategy isn't wrong, even after admitting "[transgressions]"
- Editors, Columbia Journalism Review: How should the media be covering the car crash heard ‚Äòround the world?
- Neil Foote, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Expert Advice for Tiger: Play It Straight
- Golf magazine coverage
- Monte Poole, Oakland (Calif.) Tribune: Tiger Woods is still in the rough, and will be for a while
- Pamela D. Reed, thedailyvoice.com: Tiger by the tail?
- Terence Samuel, theRoot.com: To All the Kids Out There Dying To Be Rich and Famous: Let Tiger Woods be a lesson to you.
- Jason Whitlock, foxsports.com: Tiger's real crime? Not playing the media's game
Veteran black-press cartoonist Walt Carr drew the controversial commentary.
Aunt Jemima Image Sparks Debate in Cleveland"A controversial editorial cartoon in the Call & Post, a weekly Cleveland newspaper with a large black readership, has increased the racial and political tensions surrounding Cuyahoga County government reform and one of its key backers," Mark Naymik wrote Monday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"The cartoon, which appeared on the front page of Wednesday's paper, depicts State. Sen. Nina Turner as Aunt Jemima, the much-maligned . . . food-company logo that has become a pejorative symbol of a black woman who aims to please whites in authority positions.
"Turner, who represents Cleveland's East Side, was the only black politician to endorse Issue 6, the reform proposal passed by voters last month. The cartoon re-ignites a generational split in the black community. The area's older black leaders, who wanted to further study reform, rebuked Turner during the fall campaign while others ‚Äî particularly younger black professionals ‚Äî lined up with her. The younger group again is standing by her.
". . . Connie Harper, associate publisher and editor of the Call & Post, added that [the] paper is bothered by what she sees as the corporate community's influence in the election of a county executive.
"The editorial said Turner is fooling herself to think she will win support from 'white sponsors' if she ultimately decides to run for the county executive. Similarly, the thought bubble above Turner's caricature reads 'I be's da new leader.'"
Amy Goodman Questioned at Canadian Border"U.S. journalist Amy Goodman said she was stopped at a Canadian border crossing south of Vancouver . . . and questioned for 90 minutes by authorities concerned she was coming to Canada to speak against the Olympics," the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported last week.
"Goodman says Canadian Border Services Agency officials ultimately allowed her to enter Canada but returned her passport with a document demanding she leave the country within 48 hours.
"Goodman, 52, known for her views opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CBC News on Thursday that Canadian border agents asked her repeatedly what subjects she would cover at scheduled speaking engagements in Vancouver and Victoria.
"Goodman said her car was searched and the officials demanded to look at her notes and her computer.
"Goodman is best known as the principal host of Democracy Now, a U.S. syndicated radio broadcast.
"She was coming to Canada as part of a tour to promote a new book, 'Breaking The Sound Barrier.'
"'I am deeply concerned that as a journalist I would be flagged and that the concern ‚Äî the major concern ‚Äî was the content of my speech," said Goodman.
The Canadian Border Services Agency declined comment on the incident Thursday.
- Claire Kirch, Publishers Weekly: Touring Author's Politics Arouse Controversy
Oprah Not Moving Show to Her Cable Network"When The Oprah Winfrey Show signs off in September 2011, its host will turn her attention to cable. But don't look for her current talk show to simply pick up and move from Chicago to Los Angeles," Gary Levin wrote Wednesday in USA Today.
"'Her show as you know it is not coming to OWN,' otherwise known as the Oprah Winfrey Network, network CEO Christina Norman says in an interview this week. 'She's going to have a significant presence on this network,' but not in a daily talk show. 'Pieces of that show we're going to want to find ways to retain, but I don't think the format exists in anyone's mind right now.'"
- Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News: Oprah goes, and life goes on: Winfrey's vast humanity isn't leaving us anytime soon
- John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: Oprah's Departure Not Cause For Panic, FTC Told; Fred Young says talk queen's exit could be opportunity for local news
- David Hirschman, MediaBistro: So What Do You Do, Gayle King, O Editor-at-Large and Sirius XM Host?
- Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times:¬†My wish list for Oprah's last shows
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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