Feb
27
2009

Indie Reporting Bucks Big Papers' 'Bottom-Line Interests'

Jeff Cohen journalism student Christopher Lisee has a blog post (myxomatosis, 2/27/09) with video of an independent reporter's question to University of Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun. Asked to justify his being the "highest-paid state employee" during "a $2 billion budget deficit," the coach's belligerent response–"my best advice to you… shut up"–has the questioner responding that "if these [other journalists present] covered this stuff I wouldn't have to do it." Which in turn is met by audible jeers of "oh give us a break." But Lisee tells us questioner Ken Krayeske actually "prodded the mainstream media into action." Lisee follows […]

Feb
27
2009

NewsHour's Economics-Free Economics Reporting

Calling a PBS NewsHour budget plan segment by Judy Woodruff "a primer on how to conduct an interview relying almost solely on Republican talking points," Brad Jacobson (Media Bloodhound, 2/27/09) says her "first question isn't necessarily a Republican talking point, but it might as well be": "$3.66 trillion, is that a number you can actually grasp?" Seriously, members of the mainstream media need to stop acting like they suddenly have the vapors over big government spending. The Republicans weren't the only ones to preside over the most reckless spending in our government's history over the last eight years, on a […]

Feb
27
2009

Fox Leads Immigration 'Race to the Bottom'

Immigrant rights advocate and independent journalist Roberto Lovato is worried (Huffington Post, 2/26/09) that Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Department Detective Aaron Douglas "deals with the world's media more than most" when flacking for Joe Arpaio–"America's Toughest Sheriff"–"Though he is a local official, his is often the first voice heard by many of the foreign correspondents covering immigration in the United States": The proliferation of stories in international media and in global forums about the Guantánamo-like problems in the country's immigrant detention system–death, abuse and neglect at the hands of detention facility guards; prolonged and indefinite detention of immigrants (including children […]

Feb
27
2009

Addressing the Roots of Media Racism

In his online column (2/26/09) for the Maynard Institute, Journal-isms, Richard Prince reports on those who see the New York Post's recent cartoon of a chimpanzee shot-dead–so that now "they'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill"–as "an opportunity to examine the factors that led to the cartoon's appearance in the paper." Specifically, "the NAACP plans to focus on diversity in newspaper newsrooms," calling the incident "a reminder that when we get through with Fox and the New York Post, we need to focus on the newsrooms in the country": In December, an NAACP report pointed […]

Feb
27
2009

Nothing Personal About CBS's Affinity for the G.O.P.

Ira Forman set off a furor in the blogosphere this week when he reported that CBS's pick for senior VP of communications, Jeff Ballabon, had once suggested "that Democrats are inherently bad people." (Forman–who is the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council–maintains that this is what Ballabon had stated during a debate between Republican and Democratic Jews in New York ten years ago, while Ballabon has denied the charge.) Yet for the billionaire who owns the controlling shares of CBS, the question of whether or not the Democrats are "bad people" was ruled a moot point years ago. […]

Feb
27
2009

Sean Hannity, Bad American

Sean Hannity is a great American. You can hear it every day on his national radio show, where the standard caller greeting to the host is, "Sean, you're a great American!" The catchphrase is so well-known, it's been commercialized! And who is more patriotic than Hannity, who uses his daily radio and Fox News Channel shows to maintain a vigilant watch over the slightest hint of anti-Americanism or subversion? Who warned you more often or at more earsplitting volume about how Barack Obama's life was littered with anti-American friends and associates advocating for the violent overthrow of the United States […]

Feb
27
2009

L.A. Times on the 'Controversial' Budget

Today's L.A. Times report (2/26/09) on the White House budget includes this curious warning: The document–which included broad goals and few line items–laid down controversial markers on almost every major issue facing the country. Among the immediate budget winners are the middle class and the poor, whose taxes will be eased. Among the losers are the wealthy, whose taxes will increase, along with those of drug companies and oil and gas companies. Lower taxes for everyone but the very wealthy, drug companies and the oil industry?! Why, the public outrage will be Santelliesque!

Feb
27
2009

Low Power FM Radio to the Rescue

Lamenting the fact that "commercial radio stations everywhere have been swallowed up by a handful of giant corporations, playlists have shrunk and local and independent acts have been drowned out," Free Press activist Timothy Karr (MediaCitizen, 2/26/09) also lets us know that the good news is that your rescue is at hand. On Tuesday, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) introduced a bipartisan bill that would pry open our radio airwaves for thousands of new stations, bringing independent acts…to the audiences they deserve…. The Local Community Radio Act would unleash the potential of new music for millions of […]

Feb
27
2009

NYT Slams Gore for Relying on NYT

Think Progress blogger Matthew Yglesias (2/25/09) hits the Washington Post for "standing behind the claim that up is down if George Will says that is"–and then spreads some of the blame around: Meanwhile, one of the Post's main competitors in the world of papers with potential to attract a national audience is the New York Times. So faced with a humiliating abrogation of basic responsibilities by its competitor, does the Times take the opportunity to pour some salt in the wounds? No! Instead, out comes Andrew Revkin with a false-equivalence article painting Will with the same brush as Al Gore. […]

Feb
26
2009

Newspapers Still Profitable; Wall Street Still Greedy

Media writer Nat Ives (AdvertisingAge.com, 2/23/09) throws some cold water on overheated reportage of "all the apocalyptic news about newspapers": Even as they take blow after blow from recession and digital media, newspapers themselves still earn decent profits…. "Not a lot of papers are operating at a loss," said John Morton, the veteran industry analyst. "There are roughly 1,400 daily newspapers. We only hear about the top markets. That leaves at least 1,300 papers out there." Publicly owned newspapers averaged an operating profit of 10.8 percent in the first three quarters of last year. In fact, Ives tells us that, […]

Feb
26
2009

ABC Finds Funny Animals, Foodstuffs in Spending Bill

You'd think that reporting on federal budget bills costing billions of dollars would be difficult. But it's easy, really: All you have to do is remember that budget items involving animals or unusual foods are funny. ABC's Jonathan Karl has mastered the genre. Reporting on the ominous spending bill (World News, 2/24/09), he declared: "The bill is supposed to fund government operations, but it includes things like more than $1 million for so-called 'Mormon crickets' in Utah, $200,000 for tattoo removal in Los Angeles and $443,000 to control beavers in Mississippi." Hee hee! Bugs are funny, as are government efforts […]

Feb
26
2009

Obama, Redistributionist in Chief

BarackObama unveiled plans to extend one lower- to middle-class tax credit, allow the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy to expire as scheduled, and raise revenue from a cap-and-trade emissions plan. Today's New York Times (2/26/09) described the proposals this way: The combined effect of the two revenue-raising proposals, on top of Mr. Obamaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s existing plan to roll back the Bush-era income tax reductions on households with income exceeding $250,000 a year, would be a pronounced move to redistribute wealth by reimposing a larger share of the tax burden on corporations and the most affluent taxpayers. Huh. Were Bush's […]

Feb
25
2009

Salacious Journalism: An Inside View

While "TV news executives would like us to forget this whole bizarre episode," FAIR founder and former Fox News talking head Jeff Cohen looks back (Huffington Post, 2/22/09) at the shameful media circus that was Chandra Levy's disappearance. "As I witnessed the farce from inside cable news," Cohen writes, "I could see it was all about ratings and had nothing to do with journalism": From May to September 11, cable news channels covered no story more than Condit/Levy. Not the economic slowdown, not California's energy crisis, not Ashcroft's or Rumsfeld's misguided priorities, and certainly not something or someone named Al-Qaeda. […]