Nov
04
2012

Media Should Describe Sandy as the Result of Our Climate Experiment

NASA Satellites See Sandy Expand as Storm Intensifies

Columbia Journalism Review's Curtis Brainard and I had a somewhat lengthy back-and-forth on Twitter about his view (10/30/12, 11/1/12) that some journalists and environmental activists are misleading the public by pointing to superstorm Sandy as an outcome of human-caused global warming. I argued on FAIR Blog (11/1/12) that saying that global warming caused Sandy is simply accurate–and later tried to make my point via tongue-in-cheek metaphor in a tweet. I don't think I convinced Brainard–"Wow. You're spinning words like tops," pretty much summed up his reaction. But I thought I'd try to explain what I was saying in a medium […]

Nov
01
2012

How'd You Like That Hurricane We Made?

Hurricane Sandy (NASA)

Writing about journalistic treatment of the superstorm and climate change, CJR's Curtis Brainard (10/30/12) criticizes the New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert for the wrong reason. He takes issue with her statement (10/29/12): As with any particular "weather-related loss event," it's impossible to attribute Sandy to climate change. However, it is possible to say that the storm fits the general pattern in North America, and indeed around the world, toward more extreme weather, a pattern that, increasingly, can be attributed to climate change. He's unhappy with the second part–retorting that you can't attribute a trend toward extreme weather to climate change. But […]

May
25
2012

Gawker's New Media Model: Have Advertisers Edit Content

How's this for a business model for new media? Have people talk about products, and let the corporations who make the products pay to control the conversation. That's Gawker's new sure-fire money-making scheme, according to CJR (5/24/12), which quotes a memo from the media gossip site: "In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform." CJR explains that people mainly read Gawker for the snarky comments, so site founder Nick Denton is planning on virtually doing away with posts: Expect Gawker's blog posts to get shorter, in future, and sometimes just be a headline, at least […]

Feb
13
2012

For NYT, Apple Making Less Profit Is Not Even an Option

In the Times Sunday Review Jesse Kornbluth writes (2/12/12): There are things that do not happen in the real world. Noam Chomsky becoming president. Unflattering photos of Jennifer Aniston. Apple doubling the price of iPhones so its Chinese assemblers can work a 40-hour week. OK, I know he's being cheeky (Chomsky hasn't declared as a presidential candidate yet), but there is still something that should be said about this idea that Apple products simply have to be manufactured in sweatshops. Last week, the Times tech writer David Pogue (2/9/12) made a similarly flawed argument: Bringing workplace standards and pay in […]

Oct
04
2011

Whitewashing the Blackout of Occupy Wall Street

I checked out a post from the Web-based publication Capital (9/28/11) about media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest because CJR (9/29/11) told me it was a "smart post" that "crunched the numbers" and showed "how there really is no media blackout." I have to say I would have thought CJR would have higher standards when it came to crunching media numbers. Capital's Joe Pompeo states his thesis early on: The idea that there is a media blackout has gained appeal on the left with support from Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann, who said on the September 21 edition […]

Apr
12
2011

NPR's Critics–and the Critics Who Actually Listen

From a Q&A with NPR ombud Alicia Shepard (CJR, 4/11/11): I also got a call last week from Ralph Nader. He was saying how NPR is really just a corporate toady, and that they don't have enough progressive voices on, and I hear that quite a bit. I hear that more from people who actually listen to NPR. Funny how that works.

Feb
09
2010

NYT and the IPCC: Little Evidence, Big Story

Last month CJR blogger Curtis Brainard (1/29/10) complained that the media were not giving enough attention to some complaints–mostly from climate change deniers–about the 2007 IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change report and complaints about IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri. Jim Naureckas suggested right here that this was a bad idea, but today the New York Times (2/9/10) seemed totake CJR's advice. The headline ("U.N. Climate Panel and Chief Face Credibility Siege") and second paragraph suggest something important: But Dr. Pachauri and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are now under intense scrutiny, facing accusations of scientific sloppiness and potential financial conflicts of […]

Feb
02
2010

Journalists Examine Teapot Tempests as Real Glaciers Melt

Curtis Brainard of CJR's Observatory blog (1/29/10) complains about the lack of coverage of what he calls "Glaciergate": Almost two weeks ago, the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, "broke" the story that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had made significant errors in its 2007 report on the impacts of global warming…. The report stated that there was a very high likelihood that glaciers in the Himalayas would disappear by 2035 if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Three days after the Times published its article, the IPCC essentially admitted that this was an error (while glaciers in […]

Dec
14
2009

Calling Science 'the Left' Is Not Advocating for Science

New York Times' climate change reporter Andrew Revkin is taking a buyout from his employer after a tough year, the Columbia Journalism Review's website (12/14/09) reports. Revkin, whom CJR's Christine Russell describes as "one of the most influential and respected reporters on the environment," says that 2009 "has been the hardest year Iâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢ve experienced on this beat"–in part because Revkin has increasingly found himself–and his paperâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s coverage–the target of critics on both the right and the left, particularly in the often vitriolic blogosphere. He described himself as "an advocate for scientific reality," not for either side of the debate. "The […]

Oct
09
2009

CJR's Bogus 'Liberal Media' Evidence

Tom Edsall argues on the Columbia Journalism Review website (10/8/09) that the mainstream media should just own up to the fact that they're liberal. This comes as a response to the notion that the elite press missed out on the ACORN and Van Jones stories–a dubious premise. But Edsall doesn't make much of a case. He writes that before 1965, "reporters were a mix of the working stiffs leavened by ne'er-do-well college grads unfit for corporate headquarters or divinity school." Since then, however,the elite press"is composed in large part of 'new' or 'creative' class members of the liberal elite." Edsall's […]

Sep
16
2009

Lauding 'Those Who Chose to Look' at Economic Crisis

By now it's old news to any reasonably critical observer that corporate outlets' "business reporters failed to see the crisis in the mortgage and credit markets as it brewed and bubbled," as former City Limits editor Alyssa Katz puts it (CJR.org, 9/14/09), but Katz also gives props to others who noticed how "evidence of its unsustainability was plain to see for those who chose to look": The fact is, and as immodest as it may seem to say, independents were repeatedly ahead of the curve on covering the mortgage and real estate bubble and in connecting the dots between vital […]

Aug
09
2009

AP Reports 'Breached Basic Journalistic Principles'

In his latest "Dispatch from the Bolivarian Revolution", blogger Eric Wingerter (BoRev.net, 7/18/09) asks, "Man oh man, how bad does AP reporting have to get before a group of Latin American studies professors from top U.S. universities decides they need to take out a FULL-PAGE AD in the Columbia Journalism Review to respond?" His answer is "Bad bad"–as illustrated in the ad's text: The Associated Press has breached basic journalistic principles with these false reports: [Hugo] Chávez initially suggested the synagogue attack might have been carried out by Jews eager to portray his government as anti-Semitic. â┚¬”AP February 8, 2009 […]

Jul
17
2009

On Google, HuffPo and the Business of Conveying Information

I give Peter Osnos credit for not being as nutty as Richard Posner or as self-pitying as Dana Milbank; his piece from CJR on "Whatâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s a Fair Share In the Age of Google?" (7-8/09) is the most reasonable version I've seen of the news industry's case against the search engine company. Still, I can't help but think that he's missing the point in a fundamental way. One of Osnos' key examples of the unfairness of Google involves Sports Illustrated's website, SI.com, and a story it ran (2/7/09) on pitcher Alex Rodriguez testing positive for steroids. Osnos relates SI.com's grievance: Though […]