Archive for the 'Media' Category

Could This Be a Viable Economic Model for Journalism?

Civil: Self-Sustaining Journalism is a Medium piece about a new way of doing and sustaining journalism. Honestly, I’m fuzzy on the way the concept will work, particularly the “cryptoeconomic” aspects. If anyone has a clearer idea about what they’re getting at, let me know.

Problems Relating to Government Apply to the Press

I wrote a post about why good work often isn’t valued in government, pointing to the nature of the consequences that occur as a result of performance, both individually and organizationally. What happens if the individual or organizations performs well or poorly? What types of behaviors get a strong response–negative or positive; and which behaviors don’t get much of a response at all? The answers to these questions will tell you a lot about the performance of the government agency and the individuals within it, especially over a long period of time. Moreover, if individuals want reform an agency, the consequences must also be in line with specific changes being made. To give a broad example, suppose the work of an agency is met with a great deal of indifference; that is, whether the agency performs well or not, the agency faces the same consequence–namely, virtually no consequence. An attempt to make big changes to improve the agency will be incredibly difficult, and almost certain to fail (assuming the objective is changes that aren’t temporary). No compelling incentives exists, which would leave a lot of disincentives to improve. Change is hard and uncomfortable without a compelling reason to change, change–meaningful and lasting change— won’t happen.

What I’m saying doesn’t just apply to government, but any organization. If you want to understand the performance of an organization and the behavior of the people in it, study the response to performance. Once you understand the response, you will understand the performance and behaviors in the organization. I want to apply this approach to the U.S. press, focusing on this video critique of CNN from Vox: Continue reading ‘Problems Relating to Government Apply to the Press’

Can Comedians Teach Journalists How to Cover Trump?

The following Vox video at least implies as much:

The video makes some really good points. Initially, I enjoyed a lot of the video, but I started thinking less and less of it as I thought about it more. In this post, I’m going to address the problems I had with the piece. Continue reading ‘Can Comedians Teach Journalists How to Cover Trump?’

How Should Journalists Cover a President Who Doesn’t Care About Telling the Truth?

In response to this tweet:

Here’s Professor Jay Rosen’s tweet: Continue reading ‘How Should Journalists Cover a President Who Doesn’t Care About Telling the Truth?’

Ode to the Free Press

The press has problems. There’s ideological bias, that can lead to distortions and misleading reporting. There is commercial pressures and a lack of resources that can lead to hurt the quality of journalism even more. Despite these flaws, I still think the press is very important, and does have the capacity to report facts to hold the President accountable. If there’s one thing good about the Trump regime, it’s that I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for our system of government and democratic institution, and the free press is close to the top of that list.

Here’s a thread that collects some video, quotes and anything else that serves as a paean to the press. The first video clip is my favorite:

Continue reading ‘Ode to the Free Press’

Some Thoughts on Distrust Towards the Media

I’ve read several articles/tweets from conservatives criticizing the media, and while conservatives have been bashing the media for liberal bias for years, I’m hearing a slightly different twist, now. Some of them recognize the need for good journalism now, as well as public trust in the press, but these conservative critics believe the mainstream media (some of these critics are conservative journalists/writers) is basically clueless. In this thread, I want to address some of the points they make; here are some thoughts off the top of my head: Continue reading ‘Some Thoughts on Distrust Towards the Media’

Developing a Journalistic Liberal-Democratic Manifesto for a Post-Truth World

I understand that “post-truth” is Oxford dictionary’s word of the year. Here’s their definition:

‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’

Recently, on the Diane Rehm Show Scottie Nell Hughes, a “journalist” and Trump supporter, went so far as claiming that “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” Whether she meant this literally or not, I get the sense that she, and a growing number of individuals, are starting to adopt a very relativistic stance with regard to political discourse. That is, when we talk about problems and political solutions, having some meaningful consensus about key facts and positions that are persuasive versus positions that are baseless, is not really possible–because all positions are primarily subjective and overwhelmed by personal and political bias.

This is a very dangerous idea, although it may not seem that way because the idea is fairly abstract; it’s effects aren’t easily seen, understood, or felt. Indeed, the effects may take a while to affect individuals. Nevertheless, I contend that this is a very dangerous idea. (Do you guys agree with this?) Continue reading ‘Developing a Journalistic Liberal-Democratic Manifesto for a Post-Truth World’

An Example of the Type of Journalism I’m Looking For

Mitchell has heard me grumble about the quality of reporting, especially in Hawai’i. Specifically, I feel like journalist provide superficial reporting, tantamount to gossip and innuendo, leaving out critical contextual information that would allow readers to draw conclusions. I found a Huffington Post article–Seeking Context for “Hillarygate”, examining whether Hillary Clinton’s handling of the emails was a serious crime. To do this, the author, Scott Lilly, raises four basic questions that he feels need to be answered before answering the larger question of the article:

1. When the word classified material is used, what are we talking about?

2. What are the procedures for those who must deal with classified information to communicate with one another about its meaning for the policies they are responsible for shaping?

3. How often do officials violate the best practices for handling classified material?

4. How significant were the Clinton violations?

5. How has the government responded to significant mistakes in the handling of classified material in recent history?

In my opinion, some variant of these four questions should be answered in article involving potential corruption, impropriety or act of incompetence. And contextual information of this nature is often vital in almost any news story. Yet, this is the type of information I find lacking in stories I read. Indeed, I felt great enthusiasm and excitement while reading this piece.

By the way, if this article appeared at the beginning of this email story–and if journalists understood the points brought in this article–I really doubt that this would have gotten as much coverage as it has. Indeed, I can’t help suspect that this story didn’t get written, until now, because it would have prevented the MSM from covering this story as much as they had, and that would have hurt their profits.

What’s Your Take on This?

I don’t want to say too much, just so that it doesn’t taint your reaction. But if you’re interested, check out this short clip and let me know your reaction. (I’ll post mine a little later).

Why Journalists Must Cover Donald Trump in an Different Way

I’ve been reading complaints on twitter from journalists about the false equivalence in the presidential campaign coverage. The complaint is based on the opinion that one candidate’s (Trump) deficiencies and missteps are so much worse than the other (Clinton). I agree with this, and I think the MSM doesn’t really make important distinctions between various failings of both candidates. Here are three things that I believe the mainstream media (MSM) can do to change that: Continue reading ‘Why Journalists Must Cover Donald Trump in an Different Way’

Thoughts on Why the Press May Be Covering Clinton’s Scandals Unfairly

Several prominent journalists and public thinkers have been critical of the New York Times and Associated Press for the way they have covered the Clinton Foundation’s connection with Hilary Clinton while she was Secretary of State (SoS). (Actually, they’re critical of how various publications have investigated potential scandals by the both Bill and Hilllary Clinton.) Many of these critics (Matthew Iglesias, Norm Ornstein, James Fallows, et. al.) believe some publications are spending an inordinate time investigating and reporting on potential stories that don’t warrant this; and in the process, these publications create the impression that Hilary Clinton has done something really bad. So, the issue is 1) the amount of scrutiny and coverage; and 2) the lack of any egregious wrong-doing by Clinton.

Honestly, I’m not 100% sure if these critics are correct. I do think they are, but I can’t be sure if this is my bias at work. I’ll definitely try to keep this in mind, but I want to proceed by offering a possible explanation for why certain publications (like the Times) is treating Clinton this way.

First, here are two possible reasons some publications like the NY Times favor viewing Clinton as suspect and corrupt, even if the evidence doesn’t really support this: Continue reading ‘Thoughts on Why the Press May Be Covering Clinton’s Scandals Unfairly’

When There Are No Credible Gatekeepers

In The Social Needs of Social Media and How This Relates to the Rise of Donald Trump, I discussed the way the lack of social constraints that exist in offline interactions has lead to an erosion of behavioral norms and the notion of mainstream ideas. In this thread, I want to discuss the way the press can help improve the situation. To start off, I wanted to post an excerpt from a interview with a Conservative talk show host:

tweet from Oliver Darcy, a political writer for Business Insider

The quote comes from an interview between Darcy and Charlie Sykes, a Conservative talk show host. Sykes speaks about excoriating the mainstream press, with charges of liberal bias, and how this has basically destroyed or severely damaged the ability of the press to serve as sources of facts and truth. I do think Conservative attacks have contributed to this, but I also think the democratizing effect of the internet created the conditions where this could really occur. In the internet age, the elite, which the press is a part of, have less and less authority as filters and arbitrators of what is important, meaningful and true–creating a situation where the individual, and algorithms, more and more, have supplanted them.

This is something I’ve been worrying about. In this thread, I’m going to offer some quick ideas to address this problem. way to address the problem. Continue reading ‘When There Are No Credible Gatekeepers’

The Social Needs of the Social Media and How This Relates to the Rise of Donald Trump

I’ve been spending more time on the Atlantic website, including participating in the comments section. There are some ideas I wanted to get off my chest based on this experience (and, really, I may have had these ideas before, but my recent experience has just underscored them.).To start off, I want to list some of the differences between online and offline communication and social interactions, including some observations about both: Continue reading ‘The Social Needs of the Social Media and How This Relates to the Rise of Donald Trump’

Could Facebook Prevent Donald Trump From Becoming President?

How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election is a disturbing article. It explains how Facebook could influence the election to cause Donald Trump to lose (without anyone really being able to prove they were doing this). I really don’t want to see Trump in the White House, but if the article is correct this is really troubling. (In general, I’m getting more disturbed and creeped out by online companies like FB and google.)

A News Super Team and a Lesser Version

Here’s a thought experiment. Suppose you were the richest person in the world, and one of your goals was to become well-informed, which would entail managing the flow of information you received, getting the most vital information and understanding at the appropriate time. How would you go about doing that? The first thing that came to mind would be to create and hire a super team of journalists, academics, former business people and former government workers–e.g., former editor of the New York Times, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, etc. Their job would be to pick out what they thought was the most important bits of news that occurred daily; they would identify the most important issues and would write articles, video discussions and interviews to help explain these issues, including offering solutions, etc. In some cases, they may actually go out and do research and reporting.

Obviously, I’m not going to be able to do this, but it would be cool if I could; and it would be cool if such a super team had their own website or show. (Since more prominent people like Bill Gates and Bill Clinton probably wouldn’t do this, I might concentrate on long time journalists who are out of work; long time Congressional aides, legal secretaries, as well as academics.)

But here’s another idea that is similar, but on a smaller scale. Continue reading ‘A News Super Team and a Lesser Version’

Notes on Christopher Lasch’s “Journalism, Publicity and the Lost Art of Argument”

I enjoy reading Jay Rosen’s thoughts at his site, Pressthink, and I recently one of the articles I’ve heard him mention, Christopher Lasch’s “Journalism, Publicity and the Lost Art of Argument” (written in 1987 for the Gannett Center Journal. This thread will contain raw notes on the article (which can be found online, so if anyone wants to read it and comment, that would be great!).

The article is about the function of the press in a democracy–specifically the role of the American press in the 19th century and the way that role changed in the 20th–some of this surprised, which I’ll go into in this thread.

But before I do that I want to start off with a quote (a paraphrase of ideas from John Dewey and William James) that I think is appropriate as it describes my approach to many of the posts I start here (especially ones about books or articles):

It is only by subjecting our preferences and projects to the test of debate that we come to understand what we know and what we still need to learn. Until we have to defend our opinions in public, they remain opinions in (Walter) Lippmann’s pejorative sense–half-formed convictions based on random impressions and unexamined assumptions.It is the act of articulating and defending our views that lifts them out of the category of “opinions,” gives them shape and definition, and makes it possible for others to recognize them as a description of their own experience as well. In short, we come to know our own minds only by explaining ourselves to others.

(Emphasis added) Continue reading ‘Notes on Christopher Lasch’s “Journalism, Publicity and the Lost Art of Argument”’


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Netflix’s Daredevil TV Series

Netflix will be doing some TV series involving Marvel comic book characters. Daredevil was the first series, and it premiered last Friday, streaming all thirteen episodes. I watched almost all of them over the weekend.

I think there are elements that many people here would like, to the point where I’d say most of you would enjoy this, at least on some level. The series invests time in developing characters and relationships. I enjoyed the relationships of protagonists, and I can see many sharing my feelings, especially Mitchell. I could also see Don liking the relationships between the main characters, and he would like Foggy Nelson character.

The series also tries to deal with serious themes as well, but I’m not completely satisfied with this. (More on this later.) In a way, the series has a similar approach to the Dark Knight films, trying to have a grittier, more realistic approach to comic book superheroes. Some may find Daredevil to be a little too similar to Dark Knight. I can understand this, but I didn’t really feel that way. I had some other problems, which I’ll go into now. Continue reading ‘Netflix’s Daredevil TV Series’

TV Theme Songs

Post and discuss.

Here are a few favorite instrumental themes: Continue reading ‘TV Theme Songs’

Net Neutrality–Why This Issue Matters

A saw a video of John Oliver talking about net neutrality. Oliver mentions how boring the topic is to many, and I have to admit I’m included in that group. But he briefly what net neutrality is and why it’s important. Here’s the gist:

Cable companies want two-tiered system in the internet–one tier being able to operate faster than the other–with the faster tier being more expensive. In other words, some services and activities will be available at faster speeds–but at a cost.

This is not how things operate on the internet now. All services and activities are basically seen in the same way. This is net neutrality.

Big cable companies are trying to change this–and the most likely reason is so that they can charge more for certain activities. The problem for internet users intensifies, if the cable companies have monopolistic power. Additionally, smaller start-ups, who don’t have the capital for the higher tier, would have a big disadvantage.

I’d be interested in hearing any cons against net neutrality. Right now, it seems like it should be preserved.

Here’s the video: Continue reading ‘Net Neutrality–Why This Issue Matters’