Thursday, February 26, 2009

More on Perlmutter

Perlmutter barely discusses Obama in Blogwars. His May 8, 2008 interview on The Daily Show adds to his analysis of the primary contest.

MSM Decline/More Facebook

The Rocky Mountain News is the latest casualty.

Debra Saunders, of the endangered San Francisco Chronicle, (see Alex's post from Tuesday) has some well-crafted words of warning:
And I hear this from people who say they care about news. They look to the site-rich Internet for salvation, unaware that the decline of newspapers means that those shiny new websites are linking to fewer real news stories. What looks like more choice isn't. It's more doors leading to fewer rooms. When a newspaper dies, you don't get a comprehensive periodical to fill the void. You get an informational vacant lot into which passersby can throw their junk.
The entire article is worth a look and is available here.

Cathy Young looks at the economics of MSM decline, with some observations on Walter Isaacson's proposals. (See Chloe's post from 2/10). Article is here.

As for Facebook, if you do not believe me, believe Doctor Phil:

Internal Political Roles of Bloggers in the US & in Kazakhstan

I came across an article in the NYT that gives a good example of bloggers assuming internal political roles. Rutenberg decribes liberal bloggers who are working with MoveOn to establish a political action committee that aims to challenge the centrist Democrats and push for a more left-leaning Dem party. The bloggers hope to solicit donations from readers. Rutenberg finds that the blogosphere has "proven effective at motivating party activists to give money and time to political campaigns, especially in local races."

On the other side of the world, internal political bloggers in Kazakhstan, such as Prime Minister Karim Massimov, face more obstacles in their struggle to have an impact. This Economist article describes Massimov as the country's top blogger. You can even visit Massimov's personal blog (though unless you understand Kazakh, you may not be able to make much of it), which is under threat of being shut down by Parliament. Apparently, citizens are posting their concerns on the blog and Massimov has even referred to some of these appeals in official meetings.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


As a followup to our discussion in class today, here is an example of an "A" paper.

Class ended before I was able to return to the subject of Facebook.
Social and professional networking is a way for you to communicate and share information with individuals. This can be done in person as well as on the Internet. For example, many of us use Facebook and MySpace to keep our friends and family informed as to what’s been going on in our lives. It’s also quite possible that we may have uploaded pictures and videos of ourselves and our friends and our favorite music on those sites. This might all seem harmless and fun to you, but be advised that a prospective employer could be looking at these sites before making hiring decisions. In fact, reports that the majority (63 percent) of hiring managers who researched candidates on social networking sites did not hire the person based on what they found.

Blogger Infuences Direction of American Politics from Mom's House

Here is a great example of a young, small time, non expert blogger shaping the political process.

Adam Brickley started a blogspot called "Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President," a site which helped generate early support for the governor. Even before Palin's was selected Brickley's site received thousands of hits per day.

Thought you all might get a kick out of Colbert interviewing Brickley (starts at 5:40):

For more on this story see this article from the Rocky Mountain News.

The Obama Code

Before Obama's speech last night, George Lakoff posted an entry on 538 that outlined what we could expect to see from Obama in terms of how he framed his arguments. He stated that Obama would rely on seven tactics in his speech that must be understood to analyze what he was doing. They are:
1. Emphasize values over programs
2. Frame progressive values as American values
3. Define bipartisanship as biconceptualism
4. Define the role of government as protection and empowerment
5. Link morality and economics
6. Frame policies in a way that addresses systemic causation and systemic risk
7. Frame important concepts like freedom, empathy, and personal responsibility in a progressive light.

You can read the whole piece here. After hearing the speech, most of his commentary appears to be right on.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Local professor is media-and-blog fit

Lauren and I noticed a quote in Andy Barr's ('07) Politico article critiquing Jindal's response to Obama's address. Yay Professor Pitney!

RIP Dead Tree Newspapers

Gawker reports that the San Francisco Chronicle is for sale.  This would make San Francisco a major city without its own newspaper.  The article also implies that the iconic newspaper would not be missed, as most people from the Bay Area have been getting their news online for quite a while.  

New Media and the Future

Stylistic comments:


The White House
The Obama Channel

YouTube Hubs for Congress

Leader Vlogs

A new media model: The Politico (strategy memo)

Huffington Post

PEJ Report



Our class remains on the cutting edge of societal evolution. Just hours after we discussed TMZ as a wisebot, it broke a major story.

Politicians took note, and the NY Times blog tried to catch up:
Northern Trust came under sharp criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday following reports that the Chicago-based bank flew hundreds of employees
and clients out to Los Angeles last week for a golf tournament that it sponsors and put them up in luxury hotels. The bank, which received more than $1.5 billion in federal bailout money in October, also hired such musical performers as Chicago, Sheryl Crow and Earth, Wind & Fire to entertain the employees and clients during the tournament, paying them tens of thousands of dollars, the entertainment Web site reported.

Using the public

We've talked a lot about the wide variety of roles bloggers play for the public - news aggregator, reviser/extender, wisebot, etc. But we've only briefly touched upon what the public does for bloggers. Here's an example from Josh Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo of how bloggers can use the expertise, time, and boredom of everyday readers to get through huge amounts of information to the root of the story.

And just for kicks, here's another winner from Senator Bunning, the always charismatic predictor of Ginsberg's imminent death.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Politicians on Twitter

Here is a link to Gavin Newsom's Twitter.  This is another example of him trying to use new media to help his campaign for governor of California.  

Was Ike "mediafit"?

In Blogwars, Perlmutter describes many bloggers that those who are not "mediafit" enough for the mainstream media, or to be put on the "Golden rolodex" of experts for major television programs or newspaper articles. He also talks about presidents' revolutionary use of the media - President Eisenhower the first of whom to hire an advertising agency to produce television commmercials.

Selling Eisenhower "in precisely they way they sell soup..."

Eisenhower Answers America

Can you tell that the questions and answers were filmed separately?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blogs in the Corporate World

A Wall Street Journal article, "The Blogger Keeping Tabs on His Newspaper," touches on several blog-related issues we've discussed in class and describes the role of blogs in the corporate world.  It is becoming common for some bloggers to monitor companies the same way they do politics.  The article focuses on Gannett Blog, which offers information to Gannett employees about layoffs, delivery cutbacks, and other policies, often before they are officially announced.  Other blogs provide information on other newspapers and media conglomerates, and there is even a blog that monitors Starbucks.

Obama's "Weekly Address"

February 21st, on Barack Obama's page titled "The Weekly Address: The Broadest Tax Cut Ever, Starting Today", Christopher Hass reports that Obama announced that employers will start to reduce taxes for 95% of working families. In this blog, there is a YouTube video of Obama talking about his plan. The style of this video is directly reminiscent of FDR's fireside chats where Obama talks directly into the camera. This is the first time that a president has talked to directly to the people over the internet through video. We've really come a long way!

Articles of Interest

First an article about how the $7.2 Billion for the Broadband Stimulus will be spent. It doesn't go too in-depth, but it gives a fairly straightforward overview of what's going on.

Next a BusinessWeek article discussing how some websites are beginning to "lock up" their sites and be available only to subscribers in an attempt to make some money off of the new media format. I wonder, though, what's to stop one subscriber from taking the news and re-posting it on a blog for all to see. I suppose copyright laws would have to change, then, but what would that do to the system of blogging?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Collateral Damage

Andy Barr writes of civilians who wander into the spotlight:
Two weeks ago, Henrietta Hughes stood up at a Florida town hall meeting, told
President Barack Obama that she and her son lived in a car, and appealed for help. A day later she was a segment on the cable television news, fresh grist for pundits and the subject of countless newspaper stories airing all her dirty laundry. Welcome to the show, Henrietta. Hughes was just the latest political collateral damage victim, another casualty of a relentless and lightning-quick attack-and-counterattack machine that is consuming innocent and not-so-innocent bystanders who step too close to its maw. [click here for rest of story]

An even sadder story is that of Oliver Sipple.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Political Roles of Bloggers

External Roles



Reviser/extender/media critic

First-hand accounts

Political analyst


Watchdog/Investigative reporter

From The Blogging Revolution:

The first mention of blogging in the Congressional Record goes to Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), which occurred in 2006. Senator Snowe made the reference in a debate over the proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit burning of the American flag. Speaking in support of the amendment, Snowe said: Write letters to the editor. Start a website. Create a blog. Organize. Leaflet. March. Chant. Speak out. Petition. Do any and all of these things, but do not burn our flag” (quoted in Hynes, 2006, n.p.). Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) responded: "The Constitution is not a blog for venting political opinions, currying favor with voters, or trying to bump up sagging poll numbers” (quoted in Glover, 2006c, n.p.). The first mention of a blog in a Senate nomination hearing occurred in 2006 during the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) asked the soon-to-be Chief Justice a question based on a post he had read the night before on the Volokh
Conspiracy blog ( /)

Bloggers and Politicians

Blogs by political figures:

Hillary Clinton at 2007 Yearly Kos:

Conservative group uses Jesus in anti-stimulus ad

Politico has a video of an ad put out by a third party conservative group in opposition to the stimulus. The storyline of the ad involves Jesus Christ. (I can't find a way to embed this so please click on the link to watch it.)

To me this is an extraordinarily clever idea by the conservatives who created it because not only do they manage to portray Obama's stimulus bill as wasteful and ineffective, they subtly equate their party as the party on the side of God -- a platform that has worked very well for them for many decades.

Although the ad doesn't make explicit statements or judgments about the pro-stimulus legislators, it does create a moral force-field between liberals/Democrats and conservatives/Republicans, where it conditions the viewer to think that Jesus would oppose the bill, and as a result be on the side of the latter. Without overanalyzing the ad, I think it does manage to reinforce the Christian values that the Republican Party has associates themselves with, and invokes those as part of the reason for their opposition to the stimulus.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is an example

This is an example of a link.

Emerging Obstacles for Print Journalism

Matthew Yglesias has a piece on the recent George Will mini-scandal that pertains to what we've been discussing. He views the effects of increased competition newspapers face as a good thing (not a surprising POV for a blogger) because of the increased accountability they face. This comes from multiple angles. First, there is the increase in available options for consumers, which is what he discusses. Newspapers also must deal with the internet as a public forum where dissenting views, such as Yglesias's can be heard.

New Media and Blogging

Research tips:
Historical newspapers online

Blogging tips:

Remember some basic terms:

Blogging information and data

Lott and Thurmond:


For Monday: Perlmutter, ch. 4, 5.
For Wed: Perlmutter plus

Two More Choices for the Next Essay Assignment

  • Remembering that Perlmutter finished Blogwars in 2007, take another look at his discussion of Hillary Clinton (pp. 197-204). With the benefit of hindsight, write a postscript that updates his analysis.
  • Pick a major conservative blog and a major liberal blog (see list at What political role does each play? (See Perlmutter, ch. 4-5). How would you evaluate its effectiveness? Could the blogger make any improvements? In this exercise, I encourage you to get in touch with the blogger. (Do not be shy: the worst that she or he could do is ignore you.)


  • Essays should be typed (12-point) stapled, double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page.
  • Put your name on a cover sheet. Do not identify yourself on the text pages.
  • Cite your sources. You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a bibliography. In either case, put documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style).
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
  • Return essays by the start of class on Wednesday, March 4. Essays will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness and a full grade after that. I will grant no extensions except for illness or emergency.

Signs of Change in the Newsroom

Politico notes that reporters are changing jobs at a fast clip:
In three months since Election Day, at least a half-dozen prominent journalists have taken jobs working for the federal government.  Journalists, including some of those who’ve jumped ship, say it’s better to have a solid job in government than a shaky job – or none at all – in an industry that’s fading fast. 
Capitol Weekly explains the dearth of good reporting on California government:
Of the 95 print journalists credentialed to cover the California Legislature during the 2007-08 session, 25 are now gone. Actually, the proportion of departures is far higher, because the 95 credentials include many people who don’t really cover the Capitol on a daily or even weekly basis.
The Los Angeles  Times reports that CMC alum/parent/trustee Buzz Woolley helped finance an experiment in local online journalism:
With several big-city dailies facing closure and the cover of Time last week pondering the fate of the American newspaper, I listened to young Voice of San Diego journalists talk about their work with words like "exhilarating," "fulfilling" and "fun." My tiny, ink-sotted heart soared.  The lessons out of the sunny offices on Point Loma appear to be these: A local news site can flourish on charitable donations. It helps to have one big benefactor to get things started. It makes more sense to cover a few topics well, rather than a lot poorly.

Online Journalism: Leading to the Death of Reporting?'s Gary Kamiya wrote an article predicting that the death of the newspaper industry would also be the death of reporting. According to Kamiya, the rise of the new media has led to a "new journalism" that places less emphasis on the learned craft of objective reporting and fact-checking. He writes, "there is no substitute for field reporting, in which a real live human being observes an event while it is happening and talks to other real, live human beings. It is an immutable fact that firsthand observation is the building block not just of journalism, but of all human knowledge." Though somewhat alarmist, the article does a good job highlighting both the benefits of journalist bloggers (often knowledgeable individuals who did not previously have a platform from which to commentate and fact-check) and the detriments in relying more on slanted commentary instead of objective reporting.

He acknowledges the new media's expansion of traditional journalism:

"At the same time that newspapers are dying, blogging and "unofficial" types of journalism continue to expand, grow more sophisticated and take over some (but not all) of the reportorial functions once performed by newspapers. New technologies provide an infinitely more robust feed of raw data to the public, along with the accompanying range of filtering, interpreting and commenting mechanisms that the Internet excels in generating."

And finally, maybe a benefit of the "newshole" is that unrelated stories squeezed together actually increase the breadth of knowledge we unconsciously get from a newspaper page.

"Because of the physical layout of a newspaper, you're much more likely to read a story you aren't interested in than you would if you were online. [...] Online media is tailored to respond to the individual's conscious desires; it is less capable of stimulating latent ones. [...] It will be feast and famine: There will be far less primary reporting done by professionals and far more information available to ordinary citizens."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez has been charged with using performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. He has only done one interview. His next interview was today. On USAToday's blog, they blog the press conference.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This article presents the consequences of the "partisan polarization" phenomenon that we are reading about.

NPR asked Fox News to not identify analyst Juan Williams as "senior correspondent for NPR" during his appearances on the O'Reilly Factor, because he "tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox." Williams made a controversial comment on Fox, which angered his NPR audience.

Knowing an audience expects a certain type of presentation, different news providers (organizations and also individual journalists) will actively cater to "partisan polarization" among viewers.

Ironically, we like to believe that the information we receive is unbiased, but news providers are aware that they are providing for biased viewers and may act accordingly.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Time Magazine and New Media

This Time Magazine article sums up what we were talking about in class pretty nicely. In order to save our newspapers, people need to start paying for their news again. The online versions of newspapers cannot survive on ad revenue alone, especially when people have stopped buying the dead tree version all together.

On a funnier note, here's 25 reasons why Facebook is for old fogies.

Journalists' New Responsibilities

This article I saw on MSNBC discusses the new responsibilities journalists are acquiring with the rise of the new media, such as blogs, e-newsletters, and websites.  A journalist quoted in the article also mentions the importance of pictures: when journalists receive a good press release that has no picture, they usually pass on the story.

New Media: A First Cut

Moore's Law

The most important inventor you never heard of:

Home computer usage

Broadband adoption


Matt Drudge Interview
Uploaded by petulant

Web 2.0 and the first really big viral video:

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Fairness Doctrine and a Little RNC Humor

CNN's Political Ticker published two media politics stories in a row this morning.

1)  Here, the Fairness Doctrine debate resurges.  Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) calls for its reinstatement; he suggests tacking it onto a TV and radio ownership bill he plans to introduce.  In the audio clip, Hinchey expresses the need to diversify media content and outlets to better inform the public.  Though he never once mentions talk radio, the article spins the story as an attack on right-wing talk shows.  

2)  Happy Valentine's Day from the RNC!  The RNC sent female reporters and producers on its press list these humorous Valentine's Day cards.  The inscription, "This Valentine's Day card hasn't been fully vetted," stabs at the Obama administration's difficulty with recent cabinet nominees' tax problems.  Click here to make your own card.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Copyright battle over iconic Obama image

This article shows the difficulties in protecting copyright in the new media age.  It's also interesting to see the original Associated Press photo on which the iconic campaign image is based.  

Second Assignment, First Cut

I may add more questions between now and next week. If you can think of others (especially interactive exercises), please let me know.

Choose one:

1. Pick one of the following sets of debates: Nixon-Kennedy 1960, Ford-Carter 1976, Bush-Clinton 1992, or Bush-Gore 2000. (See Iyengar, ch. 9 and the video excerpts on the accompanying DVD). Who “won” which debates and why? How did they affect the election? In hindsight, did the major print media miss anything important about the debates? You may want to consult books on the election that you choose. Nexis does not have full historical coverage, but you may find older newspapers and magazines at Debate texts are at:

2. In Blogwars, Perlmutter describes a number of new roles that bloggers are taking: compilers of political information, informant in a political marketplace, “scribbling mercuries,” correspondents, collectors and collators, revisers and extenders of big media, investigative reporters, political analysts and critics. Start your own political blog ( Undertake at least four of these duties. In your paper, explain your blog’s contribution to political debate and tell how it improves on the MSM.

  • Essays should be typed (12-point) stapled, double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page.
  • Put your name on a cover sheet. Do not identify yourself on the text pages.
  • Cite your sources. You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a bibliography. In either case, put documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style).
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
  • Return essays by the start of class on Wednesday, March 4. Essays will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness and a full grade after that. I will grant no extensions except for illness or emergency.

"Sam Stein, Huffinton Post, where's Sam?"

President Barak Obama legitimized the Huffington Post at his February 9th press conference by taking a question from one of their reporters. Obama started the press conference with a question from veteran reporter, Helen Thomas, but "Almost all of the questions came from reporters under 40 with few old standbys in attendance."

The high-profile even reflects the extent of the changes - both in demographics and sources - within the news industry.
(The clip is pretty dry, sorry)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pay to See Your Story Idea in Print?

So James Rainey from the LA Times seems to be in the mood to analyze the media--in another column he wrote this week, he talked about as a new model for paid journalism. People come up with ideas for stories that they would like to see reporters investigate and publish, and submit them to The story ideas are often about local topics that reporters wouldn't normally cover or may not know about. But to get a reporter to cover the story, the idea must be paid for. Stories cost about $500-$1000, and no person may contribute more than 20% of the funding price. Here's the explanation provide on's website:
Spot.Us is a nonprofit project of the Center for Media Change. We are an open source project, to pioneer “community funded reporting.” Through Spot.Us the public can commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. All donations are tax deductible and if a news organization buys exclusive rights to the content, your donation will be reimbursed. Otherwise, all content is made available to all through a Creative Commons license. It’s a marketplace where independent reporters, community members and news organizations can come together and collaborate.
That's one way to avoid the financial pitfalls from which so many news organizations are suffering--don't report on anything unless it's interesting enough to the public that they are literally willing to pay for it. Instead of other potential models for the future where you try to make consumers pay to read a story, you don't waste any time or resources in the guessing game of what will sell. In Rainey's article, the founder of, David Cohn, says, "Ideally is a platform, not a news organization...That is really important to me, because I should not be the one to define what is and isn't journalism, what should and shouldn't be on"It's an interesting idea, but I feel like problems could easily arise. For example, why couldn't competing news outlets simply read the suggested story ideas, do their own investigation, and publish the story before it may even be fully funded on The website tries to get around this issue with the Creative Commons license: "The end content produced by Spot.Us will be given away for free unless a news organization has contributed either 50% or 100% of the total cost. In that situation - we will grant that news organization temporary copyright to the article." As we discussed briefly in class today, copyright infringements are difficult to prove and even to track in the age of new media. Any thoughts on a website like this? Does this degrade our conceptions of what qualifies as news and undermine the work of other traditional journalists?

Journalism in Washington

James Rainey of the LA Times wrote an column that relates to our discussion today about covering news in Washington. He suggests that the target consumer for news outlets in Washington is changing--instead of news directed towards the average reader, information is tailored to meet the interests of lobbyists and Washington insiders. Aligning with what we learned in the "Endangered Species" article, Rainey discusses how general interest news sources are losing their presence in Washington. Yet in their place, Rainey argues, are a growing number of niche newspapers; there are currently 437 in Washington, increasing from 310 in the mid-1980s. He even cites information from the Pew Center report we read earlier.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Coverage and Constraint


Groundrules: On the record, off the record, background.

Morri Berman, Senior Vice President & Senior Partner and Director of Media & Presentation Training at Fleishman-Hillard:

Classification of information.

Reporting from Iraq: content analysis and reporter attitudes.

Freedom of Information around the world.

Walter Isaacson on The Daily Show

Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart's guest was Walter Isaacson. In this video he talks about the problems caused by having news available online and discusses several ideas on how to solve the problem and thus save the newspapers.

Debating the Future of Newspapers

The New York Times posted a piece on its website entitled, "Battle Plans for Newspapers." It features commentary from eight scholars and newspaper editors including the dean of Columbia Journalism School, the director of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism, and the former editor of the Sacramento Bee. The collection of short analyses addresses problems such as shrinking staffs, free online news, and what the future of journalism will look like. There are many interesting perspectives, so it's worth checking out. Below are a few highlights:

" media, particularly blogging, and traditional newspapers are already blurring together." --Craig Newmark

"Struggling midsized metro papers jeopardize their long-term relevancy by cutting news coverage, especially in fast-growing suburban areas. They’re ceding midsized and smaller advertising to competitors. They’re losing footholds in communities where local coverage matters. They’re curtailing the investigations that make them unique." --Rick Rodriguez

"I do think there is a strategy that might keep a high-quality regional newspaper modestly profitable in the future: Rely much more on revenue from readers. Publish a newspaper worth $2 a day, the price of a cup of coffee, and $5 on Sunday. Raise the quality. Make it more in-depth, more analytical, to complement the immediacy of your free Web site, and do not make that deeper, more insightful coverage available for free on the web. Perhaps make the printed product a tailored mix of sections that appeal to different readers: For $2, you get to pick, say, four sections out of six." --Joel Kramer

Micropayments and Online Competition

Michael Kinsley of Slate published an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times today where he wrote about the changing nature of print journalism. He focuses on the attempts to generate profit from online subscriptions or payments.
He covered the topic of Micropayments, the idea of having readers pay small costs for online access ("You could pay a nickel to read an article, or a dime for a whole day’s newspaper.") He ends up finding micropayments to be a problematic idea in that the real issue is not simply the migration of the content online but the world of global competition that comes with the Internet for what were once local and national newspapers.
Clearly, this relates to what we have been discussing about the difficulties of generating revenue online and the stiff competition that all papers will continue to face for the foreseeable future.

Monday, February 9, 2009

News Reporting Techniques and Routines

The most famous leaker ever:

Newsweek is adapting

An article today in the New York Times discussed Newsweek's plans to make major changes in its identity. No longer will Newsweek focus on the "what" of news events, but rather, focus on the "how," "why" and "here's what to do about it," with larger opinion sections. As Newsweek continues to lose readers (including myself who stopped subscribing to Newsweek when my subscription ran out in December), they are trying to narrow their new audience to the "best-educated, most avid consumers of news, and who have higher incomes than the average reader." The newsweekly will have four broad sections in the new version: "short takes, columnists and commentary, long reporting pieces like the cover articles, and culture — each with less compulsion to touch on the week’s biggest events." Newsweek changing aligns with what we have been talking about in class regarding the changing scope of new media and how the survival of these newsweeklies in their current form are unlikely. While we'll have to wait and see if this change is a success, it is acknowledging that a change is necessary for survival that is the first step - Newsweek is on the right track. Hopefully it will work out for the magazine.

How to be a NYT Reporter

The NYT journalist covering the peanut butter/salmonella case must have played the How to be a Reporter game. Check it out.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Public Approval of Media's Obama Coverage

I just came across this Gallup poll on the media's coverage of Obama.  According to the poll, 48% of Americans call the coverage "just right," 38% call it "not tough enough," and 11% call it "too tough."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Increase in Viewership/Readership

Two interesting articles I came across this morning talk about the increase in news viewership and readership. This article from Media Life Magazine blames the increase on the failing economy, saying that the "bad news" that has flooded television is catching people's attentions. This article from MediaPost Publications doesn't exactly give a reason for the increase in readers, but there are still some interesting statistics...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Web Ad Industry Killing Itself

In this article, which fits well with our discussion yesterday, president Chris Tillinghast laments the site's declining ad rates and revenue. The industry's standardization of shapes and sizes has allowed advertisers to place the same ad on multiple websites, using ad networks to bypass individual sites' sales teams. In response to this problem, Tillinghast seeks to develop new ad formats -- with interactivity or data-collecting capabilities -- which will increase the profitability of advertising on

I wonder, though, whether the technology already exists. (Somehow, the ads on Facebook know that I'm interested in graphic design and weightlifting.) If MSNBC were to patent the new ad formats, the patent's inevitable expiration would drive down the site's profits. By that time, more innovative and profitable ad formats might exist.

Changing face of journalism

This article is exactly in line with the past week's discussion of how economic and technological pressures have served to dramatically alter the profession of journalism. Specifically, it illustrates how cut backs have served to diminish the quality of what is reported, as senior staff voluntary or involuntarily leave.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Organization, Technology, and Economics

Typical newspaper organization chart
Generic titles
  • Bureau Chief The director of news operations in a remote site or bureau.

  • Reporter A person whose job it is to gather and write the news for a publication or a broadcast outlet.
Print Titles

  • City Editor The individual (also known as the metropolitan, or metro, editor) in charge of the city desk, which coordinates local news-gathering operations. At some papers the desk also handles regional and state news done by its own reporters.

  • Copy Editor A person who checks, polishes and corrects stories written by reporters. Usually copy editors write headlines for those stories, and sometimes they decide how to arrange stories and pictures on a page.

  • Editor The top-ranking individual in the news department of a newspaper, also known as the editor in chief. The term may refer as well to those at any level who edit copy.

  • Editorial Page Editor The individual in charge of the editorial page and, at larger newspapers, the op-ed (opposite editorial) page.

  • Graphics Editor Usually, the editor responsible for all non-photographic illustrations in a newspaper, including information graphics, maps and illustrations.

  • Managing Editor The individual with primary responsibility for day-to-day operation of the news department.

  • News Editor The supervisor of the copy desk. At some newspapers, this title is used for the person in charge of local news-gathering operations.

  • Photo Editor The individual who advises editors on the use of photographs in the newspaper. The photo editor also may supervise the photography department.

  • Publisher The top-ranking executive of a newspaper. This title often is assumed by the owner, although chains sometimes designate as publisher the top local executive.

Broadcast Titles
  • Anchor One in the television studio who ties together the newscast by reading the news and providing transitions from one story to the next.

  • Executive Producer The television executive with overall responsibility for the look of the television newscast.

  • Field Producer Behind-the-scenes television reporter who often does much of the field work for a network's on-camera correspondents.

  • Network Correspondent A television reporter who delivers the news on camera. Network correspondents may or may not do the actual news-gathering for their stories.

  • Show Producer Television news specialists who produce individual newscasts and report to the executive producer.
How do the media try to get better ratings?

Question about Articles

During the past week, we have been reading about how people are subscribing less to newspapers, fewer people are paying attention to newscasts, and less people are in general getting their news. However, in the article "The Changing Newspaper Newsroom", on the first page, the article says,"Despite an image of decline, more people today in more places read the content produced in the newsrooms of American daily newspapers than at any time in years."

The general feeling I have been getting from these articles is quite the contrary. Is this because less people are relying on traditional sources of media and are turning to the internet and this in turn produces a larger readership?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bill O'Reilly vs. the New York Times

O'Reilly and the New York Times haven't often seen eye to eye, and they've lately been engaged in a fierce war of words over immigration. A few days ago the New York Times wrote an editorial titled "The Nativists Are Reckless" in which they chastized elements of what they believed to be "radicalist extremism" in the Republican Party on immigration. Here's an excerpt:
It is all around us. Much was made of the Republican mailing of the parody song “Barack the Magic Negro,” but the same notorious CD included “The Star Spanglish Banner,” a puerile bit of Latino-baiting. It is easily found on YouTube. Google the words “Bill O’Reilly” and “white, Christian male power structure” for another YouTube taste of the Fox News host assailing the immigration views of “the far left” (including The Times) as racially traitorous.
This is the clip on O'Reilly that the New York Times was referring to:

O'Reilly responded aggressively on his show recently:

I wonder the extent to which this editorial was influenced by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's new stake in the Times ownership. Also, I'm curious as to whether there are other motivation behind these types of media wars. A part of it must be to preserve egos, but it would be interesting to know if conflicts like these enhance readership/viewership, at least in the short-term, for one or both parties involved.

Daschle and the New Media

Obama, FDR and their appraoch to the Media...similar?

The New York Times posted an opinion essay, "Obama, F.D.R. and Taming the Press" on some of Obama's early relations with the press and how they compare to FDR. In the video, around minute 3:20, a reporter begins to ask President Obama a question, which was not Obama's intention in this meeting of the press. He called the reporter out on his question, letting him know that he did not come down to ask questions, but rather just to get to know the Press, similar to what FDR did as president. I think this was a good move on Obama's part, especially because since Eisenhower, US Presidents have taken a more stand-off approach with the media. Especially in the economic hardships today, it is important that Obama presents himself as a charismatic leader who cares about the well-being of all Americans. A lot of how this is portrayed to Americans is how the media chooses to cover him. Similar to FDR, I think good relationships with the press in the Press Room at the White House will benefit Obama while in office.

You can read the essay and watch the video of Obama meeting with the press at:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Newspaper Web Audience Grows, Revs Decline

While not introducing any new points not previously made in class, I felt like this article summed up what we had been saying about audiences and online readership and the collapse of the newspaper industry...

Sunday Talk Shows

We spoke briefly on how politicians try to manipulate the media and the public by using certain key terms to frame controversial issues. If you watched the Sunday news shows this week, you can see this phenomenon in action. Republican Congressmen like Sen. DeMint (R-SC) tried to redefine the Stimulus Package in negative terms, as a "government spending plan."

While TalkingPointsMemo certainly has a leftward slant, this roundup of the Sunday shows does a good job of portraying the partisan parrying.

Endowed Newspapers

The idea of endowed, non-profit newspapers is very interesting. By getting rid of the dependence on market forces, it would allow newspapers to publish more hard-hitting public affairs news, which would certainly be an improvement. I wonder, though, if this might result in fewer people reading the news.

If the endowed newspapers publish only “real” news stories, they wouldn’t meet consumer demand for feature/entertainment/art/travel/food stories. Assuming demand for those stories stayed the same, other publications focused on non-public affairs news may arise. People who are primarily interested in this information would read these new publications instead of the endowed newspapers. Now, instead of skimming some public affairs news on their way to the entertainment sections, these readers would get no news at all.

That said, I would support endowed news sources, as well as government-funded news sources, because citizens should have access to substantial public affairs news. It is up to them to read it.

Thoughts? Also, do any other countries have endowed news sources?

NYT Executive Director, but more importantly - a former Sagehen - answers questions

Audrey, as I mentioned in a previous post, one option that some people are pointing to is the possibility of turning newspaper companies into nonprofit, endowed institutions instead of relying primarily on advertising and circulation to generate revenue. Endowed newspapers and those making contributions towards the papers would be exempt from taxes, but they would no longer be allowed to endorse candidates for public office.

NYT Exec Director, Bill Keller, brings up this possibility in response to questions directed at the future of the newspaper industry. He points out that his job as an editor puts him in charge of content, not the business model. However, as a Pomona alumnus, I'm sure he has taken at least one or two CMC econ classes to help him out. He points out that the NYT is doing pretty well, partially due to branding and a "devoutly loyal print readership." In fact, he states that circulation revenues have actually grown!

Keller's responses seem questionably optimistic, but understandable given his job title. He will be taking questions for the rest of the week, so it may be worthwhile to stay on the look out for interesting answers, or perhaps even shoot him an email with a question.

Public Interest in the News

It seems nearly all the material we are covering points to a decreasing demand in the public's appetite for the quality and quantity of news as we have traditionally thought of the concept.

Does anyone think stricter regulations, new government funded mediums like BBC, or any other mediums could help restore the quality and/or demand for news in America?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Changing Media Technology: Obama and Email

The NY Times featured an interesting piece on the limited access to President Obama's email address and the associated status of those who do have his address. Advisors with access are presumed to have the president's ear. I thought the article tied in nicely to the shifting technology of the media that we had begun to talk about in class. The new administration clearly sees a role for new technology in the running of business in the White House.

The limited access to the email also reminded me of Sarah Palin's hacked email account problems during the presidential campaign and the legitimate reasons why the president ought to have a secure email. On the other hand, should there be any legal drama surrounding Obama, the emails would be potentially subject to the Presidential Records Act--the very reason why Bush opted under the advice of his lawyers to cease using email while in office.

China Milk Scandal

Today, a dairy boss in China is trying to reverse her life sentence. On July 16, 2008, the major media broke the story that sixteen kids who were fed the infant milk formula were diagnosed with kidney stones. A major health crisis, the mainstream media jumped on the story and have fueled public outcry. This type of scandal is a perfect instance of the role of media in educating the public and making sure that food safety is of the utmost concern to producers.