Jun
07
2012

Disney Makes the World a Better Place, Reports Disney's Network

On Tuesday (6/5/12), ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer introduced a news segment:   Michelle Obama appeared today with the CEO of our parent company, Disney, because Disney decided to do something historic to help fight childhood obesity and called in the big guns to do it, including a very, very famous mouse. The "historic" move: Food ads during ABC's children's programming will now have to meet what correspondent Reena Ninan called "strict nutritional standards." Ninan also touted Disney's earlier decision to phase out trans fats from its theme parks and offer "healthier options." ("They say they saw real results. […]

May
23
2012

Karl Rove's Ad 'Deeply Researched'–Says NYT

New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters (5/22/12) covers the new attack ad being released by Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS group. Under the (somewhat funny) headline "Subtler Entry from Masters of Attack Ads," Peters makes it sound like this is something of a scoop, and certainly a pretty big deal: When it makes its debut Wednesday in 10 swing states as the centerpiece of a $25 million campaign, it is expected to become one of the most heavily broadcast political commercials of this phase of the general election. So what do Times readers learn? We get the inside scoop on the […]

Apr
11
2012

Winners of the 2012 Election Revealed

Forget the polls and the horserace for a second. In this election season, the big winners will be big media. As most people should know–but media don't tell you very often–much of the money that flows into and around the campaigns is used to buy advertising. Which means that television and radio stations make a lot of money during the campaign season. There are attempts to shine a light on this arrangement–such as the effort to make TV stations post advertising data online (something that–surprise, surprise!–TV stations don't care for). That's what made this exchange on public television's Nightly Business […]

Mar
23
2012

The New Campaign to 'Silence' Rush Limbaugh

Conservative talker Rush Limbaugh used to tell his listeners that the government was trying to silence him, based on a completely bogus tale about what the Fairness Doctrine would do. This time around, it's an ad campaign by the liberal group Media Matters for America directed at some of the stations that air Limbaugh's show. The group is encouraging citizens to contact stations and let them know they object to Limbaugh's degrading, sexist comments about Sandra Fluke. So what's the controversy? Fox News host Bill O'Reilly thundered (3/22/12) that "the far-left is a primary source of censorship in America." He […]

Jan
24
2012

Mother's Health News, Brought to You by Carcinogenic Baby Shampoo

Arianna Huffington had an announcement (1/19/12) about a new section in her Huffington Post: I'm delighted to announce the launch of Global Motherhood, a new section within HuffPost Impact dedicated to the health and well being of mothers and babies around the world, and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. It goes without saying that it's a bad idea in general to have a corporation in the health industry sponsoring health coverage; the potential for conflict of interest is obvious. But given that these kinds of special sections are typically created to meet an advertiser's need–an impression strengthened by the fact […]

Dec
14
2011

A New Lowe in Advertiser Cowardice

The national hardware chain Lowe's pulled its advertising from the TLC reality show All-American Muslim–explaining that the question of whether Muslims can be presented as regular human beings is a "hotly contested debate." All-American Muslim is a reality show described by TLC, the cable channel that airs it, as "a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan–home to the largest mosque in the United States–through the lens of five Muslim American families…an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community." But the Florida Family Association, a right-wing group leading the […]

Dec
09
2011

Why Is PBS Telling Us That Profit Is Journalism's Friend?

PBS has a website called MediaShift, billed as "Your Guide to the Digital Media Revolution." Based on an alarming post this week headlined "Tear Down the Wall Between Business and Editorial!" (12/7/11), the revolution looks rather revolting. The piece is written by Dorian Benkoil, who "handles marketing and sales strategies for MediaShift, and is the business columnist for the site"–a job description that suggests that PBS has already torn down the wall between business and editorial, since those responsibilities would seem to put you in a constant position of conflict of interest. (He earlier worked as "a liaison between the […]

Nov
22
2011

Does the Lie in Mitt Romney's TV Ad Matter?

Huffington Post reporterJon Ward did what reporters should do when covering political campaign ads. He told readers, at the top of his story, that the new Mitt Romney ad was based on a lie: The 60-second Romney ad quoted Obama as saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." It sounds like Obama is talking about his own chances in 2012. But it's actually a clip of Obama mocking his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), for not wanting to talk about the economy in the final stretch of that election. McCain's response to the collapse […]

Nov
18
2011

Public TV's Biz Show Now Owned By….

The public TV show Nightly Business Report has gone through some serious changes over the past year or so–sold by the public station that had produced it for years to a somewhat mysterious private company run by an entrepreneur whose been the subject of various controversies and lawsuits. The show's been sold once again, and the new owner of public television's premier business newscast is… an investment firm called Atalaya Capital Management. And why not, really.

Sep
21
2011

We Can't Talk About Class Because We Can't Talk About Why We Can't Talk About Class

In the L.A. Times today (9/21/11), media reporter James Rainey asks a very important question: In a week that saw the number of people in poverty hit a half-century high and President Obama propose a tax increase on those with million-dollar incomes, will America and the American media finally dig in for a serious conversation about class? And his evaluation of the media's performance on wealth-and-poverty issues accords with what FAIR has found when we've looked at the coverage (Extra!, 9-10/07, 6/10). Here's Rainey's take: Even though economists say the gap between haves and have-nots has been building for three […]

Jun
21
2011

'We Are a Profit-Driven Industry'

"I mean, we are a profit-driven industry. And if you want the most eyeballs, you have to go with the thing that people are most talking about. But if you're trying to do a quality program, then maybe you have got to go with Iraq and Iran." –Politico's Julie Mason, explaining the amount of coverage of Anthony Weiner (CNN, 6/19/11) UPDATE: Jim Romenesko reports that Gannett will be laying off 700 employees: That's about 2 percent of the workforce, according to Gannett US Community Publishing division president Bob Dickey. 'The economic recovery is not happening as quickly or favorably as […]

May
27
2011

NPR Journalists Worry About (Some) Money

NPR ombud Alicia Shepard has a piece (5/25/11) about internal discomfort with a recent $1.8 million grant from the George Soros-connected Open Society Foundation. Shepard writes: The money is for a worthy purpose. NPR is using the two-year grant as seed money to start a local-national initiative, known as the Impact on Government project. Eventually, the plan is to have two public radio reporters in every state keeping tabs on state government issues that are woefully under-reported by the media. This is to be a multi-media project for radio, the Web and social media. It's hard to argue against the […]

May
24
2011

PBS's New Plan: More Intrusive Ads

The public broadcasting newspaper Current (5/18/11) reports that public television–you know, the non-commercial outlet–will start airing more commercials: The move could be controversial for the network, which has traditionally prided itself on offering uninterrupted programming over its 40-year history. PBS will begin breaking into programs with underwriting and promo spots four times per hour on an experimental basis beginning this fall, it told station members at the PBS National Meeting here. PBS corporate communicationsofficial Anne Bentley issued a response that actually begins, "We are always looking at ways to improve the viewer experience." It goes on to say that "It […]