Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Teleprompter President

This DailyKos article summarizes how Barack Obama has used the telepromter to become as media fit as possible.  

Monday, March 30, 2009

Simulation Coverage


The International Beat

The Big Three:

Watching America

Compare how BBC covers American national security and ABC covers British national security.

Lara Logan and Jon Stewart on parachute journalism:

Video of the dangers facing journalist in a war zone:

Committee to Protect Journalists

Abduction and Murder

Jill Carroll

Danny Pearl

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Story of Jill Carroll

Frequently throughout the articles, there is mention of freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor, who was abducted by Iraqis in January 2006 and released three months later. I wanted to know more about the story, so I did a little research.

Here is a youtube video of her answering questions during her abduction:

And then here is a CNN article describing her situation:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What's Wrong with this Picture?

From the Los Angeles Times:

Discuss: does this clip suggest the visual impact of staff cutbacks? (Click photo for larger image.)

Hint here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Newspaper Revitalization Act

Tuesday Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland) introduced the Newspaper Revitalization Act. According to the AFP, the act "would grant newspapers tax-free status as non-profits, an arrangement similar to that enjoyed by public broadcasting outlets, which survive on tax-deductible contributions from listeners."

See the whole article here.

Cardin's press release.

The New York Times cuts pay, lays off workers

The New York Times today had the misfortune of having to run another story on its own financial difficulties.

A couple things jumped out at me about this article.
-It is yet another indication that newspapers are facing tough times as we've talked about before.
-The NYT headline puts a much more positive spin on the story than this Reuters article (notice the NYT headline featured the word "temporary").
-Imagine being a reporter writing a story on a cut in your own pay. Ouch. Hopefully this reporter didn't get laid off. That would be downright sadistic.

Obama's Online Town Hall + Online Coverage of Media Issues

There's been a lot of buzz recently about some issues we've discussed in class.

HuffPost has a "big news page" that covers the media, but several stories (more than usual) have made the front page as well:

-->Early this morning the top headline was "Goodbye Press Corps, Hello Internet Corps." HuffPost ripped a piece from the AP on Obama's online chat on the economy today. Obama's town hall received almost 100,000 questions (and 3.5 million votes for which questions should be asked) from citizens across the country.

Morley Winograd, a former adviser to Vice President Al Gore who now runs the Institute for Communication Technology Management at the University of Southern California noted that:

In the new world of online media, formal press conferences are just one element or program to get the message out -- to those, usually older, who watch such things on TV. The online version he is doing is an alternative way to get out the same message, in this case on the budget, targeted toward a different audience, usually younger.

This online event could become an important new component of presidential communication strategy. Maybe Iyengar & McGrady will have to add this to their next edition!

-->Yesterday, HuffPost had a couple interesting links on the front page as well:

Today's debate in Politico's The Arena, an online discussion board for invited contributors, is on whether the decline of the newspaper will hurt our democracy.

There is also a twitter dedicated to providing facts and gossip on struggling media outlets. Thought you all might be interested in checking it out: see themediaisdying.

Brandi/Factchecking POTUS

Brandi Hoffine `06 in today's Politico Playbook (h/t Byron Koay):
DNC Deputy Press Secretary BRANDI HOFFINE is awarded the pre-dawn "Mike
Allen shift." So we say “auf Wiedersehen” to “The Daily Damien,” and “good morning, sunshine” to Brandi

Factcheck.org looks at POTUS's press conference and finds some problems.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Going Public

Lockdown drill.

A better way to deal with a maniac.

Yesterday's presidential press conference:

Helen Thomas comments:

Presidential approval ratings and the rally effect


Clinton Inaugural:

"Humor" that is not so funny when you know the rest of the story:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Headlines - Novak's Hit-and-Run
Daily Show Full EpisodesEconomic CrisisPolitical Humor

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Assignment 2 and 3

Here is an "A" paper from the first assignment.

Here is the second assignment, with all alternatives:

1.         Pick any current (2009) event in Iraq or the Mideast (e.g., a battle, a terrorist incident).  Compare and contrast coverage in two American and two non-American sources (from different countries).  How did each define the story?  Did any show a bias?  Did any miss something important?  In your essay, try to find some outside documentation of the event in question (e.g., government sources) and learn about the news organizations.  Distinguish between coverage that an organization itself produces and wire stories that it merely carries.  Remember that coverage may consist of more than one story and may involve more than one day. You may find non-American sources at:

2.         Do the same kind of analysis as in question 2, but for an American news event.  Here you may find  stories at http://www.watchingamerica.com/index.shtml

3.         If you are covering the legislative simulation, write an essay on the opportunities and constraints of covering legislation.  That is, how did you use the participants, and how did they try to use you?  How did the experience compare with the real Congress?  (See, esp. Iyengar & McGrady ch. 7).

4.         Pick any national interest group or party organization. You are the communications director for that organization. Devise an advocacy ad for or against some aspect of President Obama’s agenda.  You may draft a print or Internet ad, write a script for a video or audio spot, or (if you have access to the equipment), actually produce such a spot.  Whom are you trying to persuade to do what?  Where would you place the ad?  How would you try to get “reverb” in the MSM and new media? If the group already runs ads, tell why yours is an improvement, or at least a worthy addition. (The ad will not count against the page limit.)  In your analysis, supply appropriate evidence.  (A marginally useful resource is http://attackadgenerator.com )

 5.         President Obama, like other presidents, is trying to "go over the heads" of the White House press corps. (See: http://gov115.blogspot.com/2009/03/over-their-heads.html).  Evaluate this strategy.  What is he saying in these venues that he cannot convey (or does not say) in his MSM appearances?  Are elements of his base picking up and repeating messages that the MSM would otherwise have filtered out?   Check the White House website, but note that not it may not include all of the president's non-MSM communications.  You may have to check by using Google, Nexis, and other resources. 

  • 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 your 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, 8 April.  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.


Over Their Heads

Addressing that topic relevant to this week's discussion, Jonathan Martin of The Politico writes:
At a time when his Washington honeymoon is turning into a hazing, President Barack Obama and his team are launched on a strategy to sail above the traditional White House press corps by reaching out to liberal commentators, local reporters and ethnic media. ... The around-the-filter strategy began under Nixon, notes Martha Joynt Kumar, a Towson University political science professor and expert on presidential communications. “Nixon created the Office of Communications, and they would send out copies of the president’s speeches directly to various groups,” Kumar said, referring to what is now the media affairs office. The idea then, as now, was to reach certain groups directly and without the interpretation of an at times cynical Washington press corps

The Ed Schultz interview is at:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Facts and Figures

This CNN article provides an overview of the current state of the newspaper industry.
Facts include:

  • "At least 120 newspapers in the U.S. have shut down since January 2008."
  • "More than 21,000 jobs at 67 newspapers have vaporized in that time, according to the site."
  • "The chain that owns the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune is in bankruptcy."
  • "The industry's advertising revenue in 2008 was $38 billion, a staggering 23 percent drop from $49.5 billion the year before."
The article focuses on the decreasing ability of the newspaper industry to serve as a political watchdog but also predictions that market changes give larger, national newspapers the opportunity to seize market share. If the latter prediction holds true, newspapers like the New York Times could resurrect journalists' democratic check and the industry itself.

The Daily Show Goes Inside the White House Press Corps

"In a new Administration, it's not just the government that changes. The people that cover the government change as well." Except Helen Thomas.

I remembered this segment of a recent "Daily Show with John Stewart" that recently aired, and points out the comical aspects of the White House Press Corps, many of which were topics in today's class. Some of these include:

A very small press room (:35)
The very un-West-Wing-like press offices (:50)
Dan Lothian of CNN calling himself a "hungry bird" (1:25)
Chip Reid of CBS commenting on small attention spans (2:00)
An interaction with Helen Thomas (2:25)
John Oliver's scripted interview with Robert Gibbs (3:40)

Though it fails to address any conflict between the White House and the Press and is clearly edited for comedy, it does prove a few points so I thought I would pass it along - if not only to experience Helen Thomas in real time!

Sorry about the ads, I had to use Hulu because I couldn't find it on YouTube!

For those who want to cover the simulation...

The simulation site is here.

Video from past simulations is here.

Coverage of the 2007 simulation is here.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obama Set to Win Ohio

In October 2008, there was an article that described how the economy helped Obama persuade voters that he should be elected over John McCain. This relates to Chapter 10, since it says that the state of the economy affects a president's popularity. Bush's unpopularity was a successful campaign message that the Obama campaign tied to the McCain campaign.


Obama 2.0 and CMC `06

This story describes an episode of Obama 2.0 and quotes Brandi Hoffine `06:
A spokeswoman for Organizing for America, Brandi Hoffine, said Thursday that "hundreds of thousands" of Americans had signed the pledge online, and they expect more than 1,000 canvassing events in all 50 states this weekend. Some analysts and political experts believe Obama will be able to springboard from his campaign success, using online tools to keep backers connected and motivated, and that will put new pressure on Congress to enact the president's agenda on health care and energy. Votes on the budget are expected in the next two months. "The legislative branch is about to experience crowd-sourcing," said Morley Winograd, the co-author with Michael Hais of "Millennial Makeover." He was using a term for leveraging Web technologies to enable mass collaboration.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mad Max and the Shrinking MSM

At the LA Times, James Rainey reinforces a major theme of the course. (If the "Mad Max" reference is obscure, click here.)

Political consultants aren't exactly rubbing their hands together and snickering. But as the hired guns look over a landscape of closing newspapers and laid-off investigative reporters, they sense an opening that leaves them both excited and queasy.One operative told me this week about planting attacks on opponents in partisan blogs, knowing the stories could bleed into mainstream news outlets, without leaving any incriminating fingerprints. Another described how he got green reporters to write stories (no campaign cash wasted!) on ads that the candidate had no intention of ever paying to put on TV. "They don't know any better," the consultant chuckled. "So we can get away with that one again."The political pros I interviewed talked about stories missed and questions not asked. But they were not entirely gleeful. These are consultants who care about more than just winning. (Hard to believe, but it's true.)They know better than anyone what happens when the gatekeepers go missing. "Imagine driving along [Interstate] 5. There used to be a couple highway patrolmen to keep people in line. Now they're gone and everyone knows it," said Chris Lehane, a veteran Democratic consultant. "It can devolve into a Mad Max situation pretty quickly."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

San Diego Union Tribune Sold (finally)

The San Diego Union Tribune, which has been on the market for sale since July 2008, finally has a new owner. Platinum Equity has bought the paper from Copley Press Inc. for an undisclosed amount. According to the San Diego Daily Transcript (whose publisher is a CMC alum): "Platinum specializes in acquiring businesses facing complex operational challenges in declining or transitioning markets. The Platinum team includes David H. Black, an experienced newspaper owner and operator whose holdings include more than 150 newspapers and Web sites in the United States and Canada." Hopefully the new owners will be able to restore the paper back to what I remember it to be as a kid.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Echo Chamber

A few years ago, David Brock wrote of a Republican noise machine. Now a fascinating story in The Politico describes a little-known but influential listserv on the other side:
For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList. Proof of a vast liberal media conspiracy? Not at all, says Ezra Klein, the 24-year-old American Prospect blogging wunderkind who formed JournoList in February 2007. “Basically,” he says, “it’s just a list where journalists and policy wonks can discuss issues freely.” But some of the journalists who participate in the online discussion say — off the record, of course — that it has been a great help in their work. On the record, The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin acknowledged that a Talk of the Town piece — he won’t say which one — got its start in part via a conversation on JournoList. And JLister Eric Alterman, The Nation writer and CUNY professor, said he’s seen discussions that start on the list seep into the world beyond.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Pope Must Google!

Awareness of the new media has reached the very, very, very highest levels. The New York Times reports:

The letter released Thursday in which Pope Benedict XVI admitted that the Vatican had made “mistakes” in handling the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop was unprecedented in its directness, its humanity and its acknowledgment of papal fallibility.

But it also contained two sentences unique in the annals of church history.

“I have been told that consulting the information available on the Internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on,” Benedict wrote. “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”

In other words: “Note to the Roman Curia: try Google.”

Note: the pope was not denying the doctrine of papal infallibility, which has a very specific meaning. (Sister Anna Gregory would have wanted me to stress that point.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Submitting Op-Eds

Some of you have asked for the contact info for newspaper op-ed pages. I have found a handy collection from Fairleigh Dickinson University. It does, however, contain a misspelling of the LA Times guy (Goldberg, not Goldber). For information specific to LAT, click here.

In any case, you should doublecheck with a newspaper’s own site before submitting anything.

Here are various other web pages with op-ed submission information:

There are some good writing tips here and here.

Campaign Coverage: Tone and the Future

Campaign Tone: A study of 2008

Talk Show Politics in 1992. Ross Perot:

Gore v. Perot in 1993

Comedy News

Local Media Conference

If you're going to be here over Spring Break (or if you're coming back early and will be spending the last weekend in Southern California), there is a local media conference happening on Saturday March 21, 2009 at Occidental College.

Local Media for Social Change: A Southern California Regional Summit

How happy are you with your local news? How are the issues you care about being covered?

If you are concerned that our democracy and your community are being underserved by the state of today's media, then you should join us for this informative half-day summit.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA

11:00am to 5:15pm, with reception to follow

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nonprofit Newspapers, Twitter, and Ann Coulter

The dying San Francisco Chronicle may become America's largest nonprofit newspaper, reports Gawker.  Also, who needs polls when we have twitter?  And speaking of debates, this time it's the talking heads' turn to spar.  

Obama's mark in history

NYT article, Making Obama's Marks, provides further background on Obama's logo including the intent of the design:

The White House guidelines for each logo were very clear. “It was explicitly stated that the ARRA logo not look ‘governmental,’ ” Juras said. “We were asked to create a ‘visible sign of progress’ in a contemporary way while referencing energy, education and health care.

“The sooner it becomes a historical artifact, the better.”

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dogs and Debates

Media Training:

Meet the Press (yesterday)

Soundbites and Photo Ops

Watch CBS Videos Online

Fala (start at 7:30)


1960 Debate

1980 Debate

1984 Debate: Reagan Stumbles

1984 Debate: Reagan Comes Back

1988 Quayle-Bentsen

1988 Dukakis

1992 Town Hall

Campaign Tone

Meet the Press (yesterday)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Famous Ad

An awful lot of times in the book they mention the ad that media didn't really verify or provide questioning of during the 2004 election---the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attack ad against John Kerry. Here are a couple of them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Obama's use of paid/free media?

We recently discussed the benefits of free and paid media in class. It seems Obama is using a form of advertisement for his economic stimulus plan.

President Obama announced today that his administration will begin stamping an emblem on projects funded by the economic stimulus package so that people can easily recognize the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“These emblems are symbols of our commitment to you, the American people -- a commitment to investing your tax dollars wisely, to put Americans to work doing the work that needs to be done. So when you see them on projects that your tax dollars made possible, let it be a reminder that our government -- your government -- is doing its part to put the economy back on the road of recovery.”

Full Article Here

If the recovery plan goes well, might these stamps be physical advertisements for his accomplishment? It would certainly look good for his reelection campaign.

What Will the Recession Look Like?

Slate magazine is encouraging its readers to submit photographs of the economic crisis. Past crises have led to iconic photographs of those in need:
The Great Depression calls to mind grainy news photos of bank runs and soup kitchens, and the harrowing portraits taken by Walker Evans. The downturn of the 1970s evokes images of yacht-size cars idling in line at the gas station. But what does the current economic crisis look like?
You also can't take a picture of the unemployed if they never leave the house.
How are we going to record the depression if everyone is glued to their TV and computer screens?

Shoot the Recession: Slate wants to see your photographs of the economic crisis.

Campaigns and Elections II


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cronkite Interviews Kennedy

Former CBS Anchor Walter Cronkite used to interview presidents about issues. That is not the case these days where journalists interpret the news and don't allow politicians or presidential candidates to talk directly to the people.

In this clip, Kennedy is talking to Cronkite about the situation in Vietnam in 1963.

Media Matters keeps an eye on Rush Limbaugh

Anyone who follows politics would know that Rush Limbaugh has a commanding conservative audience for his radio show. Since the inauguration of President Obama and the recent sea change in power, Rush Limbaugh has risen to greater prominence as a result of the power vacuum in the Republican party. According to some, he's a savior and is speaking the gospel of conservatism. According to others, he's simply insane, and consistently engages in lies and deception.

Media Matters, an example of what Perlmutter would call a "reviser and extender of the media," has launched a watchdog section within their website to monitor Rush Limbaugh -- designed largely to to fact-check Rush and to monitor his whereabouts in the political landscape.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Typo and Ford Gaffe

Firstly, there seems to be a typo in the book on p.161. In the first paragraph it says,"...a candidate must demonstrate a level of public support (in reputable polls) of at last 15 percent. It should say least not last.

But on a serious note, this is the famous gaffe that Ford made in the debates about Soviet presence in Eastern Europe.

Elections I

The incongruity of congressional districts and DMAs: The case of California.

Campaign Strategy