Monday, February 28, 2011

Differences in China's interaction with the media versus the U.S.

The call for a "Jasmine Revolution" in Beijing a few weeks ago yielded few results, yet the Chinese government is still cracking down on reporters. The overreaction of the Chinese government and their oppression of the media shows how different their government reacts with media sources. Here is a youtube video posted by CNN about the story:

Presidency and Congress

Presidential approval ratings and the rally effect

A White House press briefing:

Presidential rhetoric

An Oval Office address: Challenger

Clinton Inaugural:

A hearing:

Bob Novak:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not A Particularly Well-Written Article, But Interesting Nonetheless

Media Blackout: CNN Fox News and MSNBC Ignore 100,000 WI Protesters

"Over 100,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin were joined by thousands of other Americans around the country in protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from the state’s unionized workers, but you would not have known any of this if you watched cable news on Saturday as the coverage of the protests ranged from disappointing (MSNBC) to scant (CNN) to non-existent (Fox News)."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Second Assignment 2011

Choose one:

1. Pick one of the president’s initiatives from the 2011 State of the Union address. Explain the White House communication strategy to promote the initiative. That is, how is the administration framing the initiative? By what means is it pitching the initiative and to which audiences? Do you think that the strategy is effective? In your analysis, you should take a careful look at the White House website ( as well as the sites of any relevant federal agencies. Remember that the White House website does not include all of the president’s public utterances, so you should also use Nexis and Google.

2. Devise a strategy for promoting a bill or other specific policy decision currently pending in Congress, a state legislature, or a local government. The strategy may either involve working with an existing group or acting on your own. Be specific: explain what message you would send to which professional media outlets, and how you would use blogs and social media. Tell how this approach would influence which specific decisionmakers. (If you really want to promote the cause in question, feel free to implement some of all of your plan, for instance, by starting a Facebook page.) For an example of a cause, see: Autism Votes

3. Research institutes at the Claremont colleges study a variety of federal, state, and local policy issues. Devise a strategy for gaining national media attention for such a study (e.g., The strategy should encompass professional media, social media, and blogs. (Please do not carry out your plan without the knowledge and permission of the institute.)

4. Graber writes of the “CSI effect.” Watch an episode of any of the CSI shows. Explain how it could affect a jury’s expectation about evidence. Evaluate the episode’s accuracy in its portrayal of forensic science.

  • Essays should be typed (12-point) stapled, double-spaced, and no more than three pages long. I will not read past the third 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 9. 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.

Campaign Coverage: Mediated and Unmediated

The difference between a live interview and a recorded interview:

The Fox effect:

The NewsHour as (relatively) unmediated coverage:

Unmediated coverage on C-SPAN:

How would you answer?

Farnsworth & Lichter (p. 156) say that 1992 marked the start of late-night shows as an alternative information source. not quite true:

Unmediated politics and the Internet

A little bit of comedy

Two of my favorite SNL skits making fun of presidents--not important to watch, just wanted to share the links for those in need of a little more humor this week.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rahm Emanuel's Post-Meta Political Satire Adventures

In this world, Rahm Emanuel is known as a political shark who happens to swear. In the Twitterverse, however, Rahm has an internet doppelganger who hosts karaoke parties in his igloo, practices for debates with a duck named David Quaxelrod, and is prone to lighting everything he owns on fire in the face of Supreme Court rulings.

The 140-character tweets of MayorEmanuel may be more profanity-laden than those of the real Rahm Emanuel, but Chicagoans love it: MayorEmanuel has 32,000 followers compared to Rahm's 8500. The Chicago Tribune speculates that his popularity stems not just from being satire, but from the technological way that the fake Rahm Emanuel inhabits the real world: MayorEmanuel live-tweets events that the real Rahm attends, gives us exactly what real Rahm might be thinking in the middle of debates ("Wait a second--Del Valle has a motherf------ ventriloquist's dummy... nobody told me there was a f----- talent portion!"), and provides explanations for Rahm's real-world behavior. For instance, why wasn't he at a scheduled campaign event? Because he was trapped in a box in his basement while playing hide-and-seek the day before...and had eaten an expired jar of baby food...and then hallucinated that the ghost of Gene Siskel brought him to hug the Heart of Chicago.

More notably is the manner that MayorEmanuel inserts himself into the race, tweeting back and forth with columnists, political figures, and even Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey. (Attempts to interview him result in profanity-laden dismissals.) The real Rahm Emanuel might actually approve of his postmodern adventures, and recently offered $5000 to charity if the author would out himself.

By the time our class resumes tomorrow, Rahm Emanuel will have either won the Chicago mayoral election or face a runoff election. The future of MayorEmanuel is not so clear, but the author of the account seems to acknowledge the blurring of fiction and reality in his latest adventure with Mayor Daley:
"The mayor doesn't just run Chicago," Daley says, walking over to the grill. "You need to understand what's really at stake here."
Daley lifts the lid of the grill, his body straining under the weight. And suddenly I don't want to f---- know what's inside.
"There's not just one Chicago. There's not just one you. It's infinite. And we keep the portal," and he gestures for me to f------ look in. And I look and... and it's Chicago--again and again. And tiny, in the corner, peering up at me, is... me. Thousands. Millions.
Except. Except something feels f------ wrong. "You notice it too," says Daley. "There's one you missing." And Daley looks at me deadly f------ serious and says, "Which means there are two of you here, in this world, in this time.
"Which means," and he looks at me now there are f------ tears on his face, "that one of you won't survive this election."
And, before I can try to figure out what the f--- Daley's on about, the bag is back on my head, and everything goes black.

UPDATE: Rahm wins outright. Mayor Emanuel is sad to go:
Elected mayor tonight. Sucked into a time vortex tomorrow. Might as well KICK THIS PARTY OFF RIGHT F------ NOW.

conflict of interest

Interesting article about potential GOP candidates being on Fox's payroll. Also, a general question that I don't know the answer to: why hasn't anybody declared and why does it seem like nobody wants to be the first? There is a whole "we'll see what happens" and "it's up to the people" vibe being put out and I don't understand.


In the world of press politics, "pushback" refers to the effort by political figures to change media frames that they dislike. An example from today's Politico "Playbook" by Mike Allen:


--Feb. 18, WP, top of A1, “Obama joins Wisconsin budget battle,” by Brady Dennis and Peter Wallsten: “The president's political machine worked in close coordination Thursday with state and national union officials to get thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals. … By the end of the day, Democratic Party officials were organizing additional demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana.”

--Feb. 19, @OFA_WI (official Twitter account of the DNC’s Organizing for America Wisconsin): “What’s going on in WI is a grassroots story, not a Washington one. Workers are fighting for their rights and we support their effort.”

--Feb. 21, NYT A11, “Wisconsin Battle Puts President Between Competing Political Desires,” by Jackie Calmes: “‘This is a Wisconsin story, not a Washington one,’ said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. ‘False claims of White House involvement are attempts to distract from the organic grass-roots opposition that is happening in Wisconsin.’”

WEST WING MINDMELD: The Washington Post way oversold the story, Drudge picked it up and it was quickly being used as a GOP talking point to distort the situation.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidents Day 2.0

In honor of Presidents Day, Hulu has compiled some historic campaign ads. Worth checking out if you have the time.

Frames, Photo Ops, Sound Bites, and Talking Points,

A followup to Max's post.

As was the case in 2004, majorities of the national and local journalists surveyed describe themselves as political moderates; 53% of national journalists and 58% of local journalists say they are moderates. About a third of national journalists (32%), and 23% of local journalists, describe themselves as liberals. Relatively small minorities of national and local journalists call themselves conservatives (8% national, 14% local).

Internet journalists as a group tend to be more liberal than either national or local
journalists. Fewer than half (46%) call themselves moderates, while 39% are self-described liberals and just 9% are conservatives.

Among the population as a whole, 36% call themselves conservatives – more than triple the percentage of national and internet journalists, and more than double the percentage of local journalists. About four-in-ten (39%) characterize their political views as moderate, while 19% are self-described liberals, based on surveys conducted in 2007 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
A photo op that went bad:

An important lesson (post-election): be careful what is in the background of the photo op:

A much more successful visual:

Sound bites

The classic campaign soundbite -- Fala!

Another dog story:

Generic News Stories

This article from Slate is from last October, but I thought it was funny and relevant to our discussion about the news being cyclical.

The reporter put together a list of often-repeating headlines that he compares to reporting that the "Sun Rises in the East".

Apple To Announce New, Secret Product
Social Media in [Country X] Faces Crackdown
Middle East Peace Process Restarted
Security Lapse Exposes Private Data of Millions
Market Falls on Fear of Inflation
Market Rises on Hope for Inflation
Long-Shot Candidate Challenges Status Quo
Inside the White House: Aides Disagree on Policy
Partisanship on Rise in Congress
Lobbyists Exert Influence Over Legislative Process
Congress Recesses With Unfinished Business
Leading Corporations Pay No Taxes
Standardized Test Scores Rise, Racial Gap Remains
Despite Gains, Women's Pay Lags
Day Care Found To Advance Children's Social Skills
Day Care Found To Delay Children's Social Skills
Americans Heavier Than Ever
Heart Drug Found To Cause Heart Attacks
Election Shatters Campaign-Spending Records
Additive Linked to Cancer
Broadcaster Fired Over Offensive Remarks
Interest Rate Jitters Drive Dow Down
Markets Rise on New Unemployment Numbers
Mixed Signals From Fed Send Stocks Lower
President Extends Olive Branch to Washington Insiders
Irregularities Found in Pension Fund
Civil Rights Leaders Embrace Personal-Responsibility Message
Lindsay Lohan Violates Parole
Brett Favre Mulls Retirement
CSI Launches Spinoff
New Job for Kinsley

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gay Marriage Video goes Viral

Early this month, one of my best friends from high school in Iowa City, Zach Wahls, got a taste of fame as a video of his speech on gay marriage to the Iowa House of Representatives spread across the internet.

Though I've had the privilege of listening to Zach's rhetoric since childhood, the only reason he is now reaching a national audience is due to the powerful forces of social media, supportive bloggers, and YouTube.

National TV networks and major online newspapers like the Economist, the Huffington Post, and AOL picked up the video of his speech and the rest was history.

His testimony to the legislature might not have been able to instantly convince the politicians to vote against the bill to revoke the legality of gay marriage in Iowa, but the media ripple effect his speech, and others like it, have had since the vote might influence how such bills are approached in the future in my home state.

He now has a book deal and came to L.A. to do more talk-show interviews last week.

He stayed with me, though, while he was here; It's nice he remembers the little people. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why Reporters Take Risks

At The Huffington Post, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes about Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who suffered a brutal sexual assault while covering protests in Egypt:
I do not speak for Ms. Logan or any other reporter who has worked in conflict zones or amid scenes of great upheaval. But I will take the liberty of answering the basic question of why Logan was there in the first place.

Because it is her job. Because she is good at it. And because it is what she does.

War reporters are often seen as a wild bunch of thrill-seekers who wade into danger zones simply for the sake of the adrenalin high the settings inevitably provide. But this one-dimensional explanation leaves out the core of the story, which is that reporters go to these places because they feel the tug of responsibility. The responsibility to tell stories in parts of the world that most of their readers will never see or know, despite the fact that their countries play a leading role in the imaginations of the men and women in countries like Egypt, and Afghanistan and Iraq.


It is possible I take the media attacks on Logan personally because, though we have never met, we share friends and colleagues in Afghanistan, where, since 2005, I have reported on the women whose strength and ingenuity saved their families during the Taliban years and the businesswomen who are boldy rebuilding their country today. In December I traveled to Afghanistan while nearly seven months pregnant to report on efforts to fight the scourge of maternal mortality in the country, one of the deadliest places in the world to be an expectant mother. My family and I told few people of the trip because we knew they would inevitably question the decision to go, despite the fact that I had done all possible to limit the risks. For me, it was about giving voice to those who would not otherwise have one and about telling stories I believe matter deeply. And it was about the sense of service and responsibility that calls you to journalism in the first place.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Google and Facebook Demographics

Latest Gallup Data:

Self-Reported Usage of Google and Facebook, by Demographic Group, January 2011

By the way, if you want to know what kind of photos you can safely post on Facebook, here are examples:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Using Controversial Ads to Generate Free Media

As we discussed on Monday, campaigns can generate press through both free media and paid advertisements. However, over the past few cycles campaigns have found ways to do both at the same time. Take this ad for example:

Notice at the bottom at about :05 that the ad cites the Christian Science Monitor on 7/10/08 as the source that Perriello supports same sex marriage. The paper did run that story on 7/10/08; however, on 7/11/08 it ran a correction saying that Perriello did not in fact support same sex marriage. The ad went live, and many Perriello supporters were furious and demanded that it be taken down. The controversy that the ad created won the ad additional free media and caused many more people to watch the ad. The ad was eventually suspended, but not until many more people had already seen it.

Over the past two cycles, several Democratic and Republican campaigns have run similar ads that have generated controversy (and even lawsuits). While many attacked the ads as dishonest or unethical, in every case the ads had a greater impact than the initial ad buy would have received.

The Media in 2008: Differences and Continuities

The Forum makes "The Fix"

Campaign media concepts:
  • Pack journalism
  • Feeding frenzy
  • Horserace coverage

A prime example of horserace coverage.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
John Zogby
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Clinton and Obama announced on YouTube

Chart: Pew_Politcal Use_Age_Final

Source: The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, November 3-24, 2010 Post-Election Tracking Survey. N=2,257 national adults ages 18 and older, including 755 cell phone interviews; n=925 based on social networking site users. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This chart is based on data from “22% of online Americans used social networking or Twitter for politics in 2010 campaign,” a report on politics and social media by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. This report is available in full on our website at The Pew Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. For more information about the Project, please visit
Pew_Politcal Use_Age_Final
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Why did Republicans catch up?

Chart: Pew_Elections 2010_Democratic and Republican_Final

Source: The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, November 3-24, 2010 Post-Election Tracking Survey. N=2,257 national adults ages 18 and older, including 755 cell phone interviews. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. *Indicates statistically significant difference between Obama voters and McCain voters. This chart is based on data from “22% of online Americans used social networking or Twitter for politics in 2010 campaign,” a report on politics and social media by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. This report is available in full on our website at The Pew Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. For more information about the Project, please visit
Pew_Elections 2010_Democratic and Republican_Final
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Scoop!

Forum reporter and fellow classmate Jesse Blumenthal broke some news this week.
United States Representative David Dreier '75 (R-CA) told him in an interview that he had heard confirmation Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert '77 intended to run for a Texas Senate seat. Blumenthal, following reporting standards, was careful to specify Leppert would "likely" enter the race in light of Kay Bailey Hutchinson's recent retirement. Leppert himself would not confirm these facts to the Forum, only hinting that he has been encouraged to run and was "exploring opportunities."
In a matter of hours, Politico and The Dallas Morning News had linked Blumenthal's piece as quite the unusual leak.

WaPo's The Fix and a National Journal blog referenced Dreier's "cryptic hint" by this morning.

Michael Wilner contributed to this blog post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Elections: A First Cut

A Designated Market Area (DMA) is a media market, a group of counties that account for the major viewing audience for television stations located in a metropolitan area.

California's DMAs (left) v. US House districts (right)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Here we go again

Algeria shuts down internet and Facebook as protest mounts,0

Colbert: A Funny Take on a Serious Subject

Friday, February 11, 2011

HuffPo Compensation

If you publish at The Huffington Post, great, but do not expect ... actual money.

At GOOD, Alex Goldmark writes:
AOL's $315 million acquisition of the Huffington Post may be great news for Arianna Huffington, but will it be any help to the legions of writers that currently give her content for free?

If she scales her freelancer payment habits—continuing to offer exposure in lieu of actual money—it could be terrible for journalists, further driving down the pay rates for online reporting.

So naturally the response from freelancers to Arianna's windfall is to, once again, call on her to pay a living wage for journalists. The California Freelancers Workers Guild is taking the opportunity to point out Arianna's passionate defense of the middle class in her recent book, Third World America, where Huffington wrote "It's no longer an exaggeration to say that middle-class Americans are an endangered species."

(h/t Helena)

A Scandal Opens and Closes in Internet Time

You may have wondered why I included Gawker on my Mass Media links page. An answer came this week, when a Gawker story led to the resignation of a GOP House member. It is a classic case of cyberscandal, starting with Craigslist, continuing through emails, and exploding on a celebrity site.

Politico reports:

Top House Republicans insist they did not force out Rep. Christopher Lee, whose sudden resignation on Wednesday night after an extraordinarily brief Internet sex scandal set off a scramble among potential candidates who want to take over his western New York seat.

Lee announced his immediate departure from Congress just hours after the website Gawker posted a story saying he had e-mailed a topless photo of himself to a woman he contacted through Craigslist. Lee is married with one child.

Lee was apparently attending a House GOP policy retreat in Baltimore when he sent the late-night photo, according to e-mail records released by Gawker.

The stunning fall from grace for the junior New York Republican was a lesson in the power of the Internet scandal. A controversy can turn into a frenzy in minutes or hours, and some pols — such as Lee and former Republican Reps. Mark Souder of Indiana and Mark Foley of Florida — choose to bail out immediately rather than stand and fight.

There is a puzzle here. Lee's actions were embarrassing to his party and hurtful to his family -- but they were not illegal. There are more than a few sitting lawmakers who have done worse things in their private lives. So why did he quit so fast? The recipient of his emails has a reasonable speculation:

I wouldn't have thought he'd resign, over a few pictures and a few emails. I think maybe there's a bigger story behind his resignation. I'm sure there are other women out there he's met. My theory is, you don't get caught your first time out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Breaking News: No Hair Dye

Last week Ching mentioned how it was major "news" that Pres. Obama had lost his internet connection. Now the latest big news from the President centers on whether or not he dyes his hair...

The question came up most recently on NBC's "Today Show", as Graber mentions how much the morning news/talk shows love softball subjects like this.
Imagine the headlines if Obama were to be caught using Rogaine???

HuffPost Runs a Bitter Defense

Huffington Post reporter Jason Linkins wrote an article on Thursday defending the website's highly contested business model. He starts off sounding a bit hostile:

"In the wake of the AOL acquisition, I've been reading a lot about The Huffington Post from a lot of people who, as outsiders, don't really have any idea about what we do, here. They nevertheless have all sorts of opinions.

...Being a paid employee comes with many expectations and responsibilities. Let's run some of them down, shall we? First of all, there's this expectation that on a daily basis, you will show up and do work. In an office and everything! There you are subject to things like deadlines -- you actually have to produce writing on a regular basis. You receive assignments, from editors, that you are expected to fulfill in a timely fashion... Those are the sorts of responsibilities, that, when they are fulfilled, entitle one to a "salary." ... You are, theoretically, on call, 24-7, to get the work done."

He goes on like this for a while, excessive comma usage included. Eventually he gets to the point:

"All of the above -- the original content that drives the entire business and the aggregation that sends readers out into the world of news and information -- helps to build an architecture that enables thousands of other people to have a space to come and write and play and inform and start conversations. Those people are the Huffington Post bloggers -- who flock to the site for a chance of being heard. There are many people who believe the original reporting and content aggregation is done on the backs of these bloggers. In reality, the opposite is true -- their opportunities only exist in tandem with the work of people like me."

Linkins leaves some unconvinced of the viability of a volunteer system, although it's hard to argue with a count of roughly 6,000 faithful, "free" bloggers.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Meet the New Boss

News of a shake up at CBS News broke yesterday. "Sean McManus, who had been head of both CBS News and CBS Sports, is leaving the news side, to be replaced by David Rhodes, formerly of Bloomberg TV. Jeff Fager, the executive producer of "60 Minutes" steps into a new post as chairman of CBS News."

It is still unclear how long Katie Couric (of high pay and low ratings) will stay at CBS. Some reports indicate that she has been offered a contract extension through 2012.

David Rhodes' brother, it may be worth noting, is Ben Rhodes, President Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications (foreign policy speech writer).

Today's Playbook (couldn't find the permalink) notes that Bloomberg "doesn't mess around when it comes to defectors. David’s out-of-office e-mail: “Your Bloomberg contact has changed. Please call +1-212-318-2000 and we will be happy to put you in touch with someone who can assist you.""

Reporting, the Agenda, and the Public Mind

Geraldo Rivera made his name with a NYC TV report on Willowbrook:

In 2007, a Fort Worth station reports on "To Catch a Predator" (see Graber, p. 153).

See Radio-TV-Internet Code of Ethics

Anthony Downs, "The Issue-Attention Cycle," The Public Interest 28 (Summer 1972): 38-50.

  • The pre-problem stage. Some undesirable social condition exists but has not yet caught much public attention.
  • Alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm. As a result of dramatic events or for other reasons, the public suddenly becomes both aware of and alarmed about a particular problem. There is euphoric enthusiasm about society's ability to "solve this problem."
  • Realizing the cost of significant progress. The third stage consists of a gradually spreading realization that the cost of "solving" the problem is very high.
  • Gradual decline of intense public interest. The previous stage shades into the fourth stage: a gradual drop in the intensity of public interest.
  • The post-problem stage. The public moves on, but new institutions, programs, and policies may be in place.

A Pew survey of political knowledge.

Expecting the Webb Retirement

As we discussed in class, many times news organizations are expecting a story to break and write most of the story before it actually happens, so that when it does happen they can just fill in the details and publish fast. The media clearly was anticipating Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb's retirement announcement this morning; both Politico and the Fix were out with detailed stories about his retirement and what may happen very quickly.

Additionally, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was anticipating the announcement and is already attacking the Democrats' strongest replacement candidate:

“Senator Webb’s decision not to seek reelection makes Virginia an even stronger pickup opportunity for Republicans in 2012. While there is no doubt Republicans will field a strong leader as our nominee, Democrats will have great difficulty finding an electable candidate for this open seat as Virginians continue to reject their agenda of higher taxes and reckless spending. We can only hope that Democrats succeed in recruiting President Obama’s number one cheerleader in Washington – Tim Kaine.”

Politico Pro

Over the last four years, POLITICO has navigated some of journalism’s most difficult days by showing that money could be made from a free website with a niche – albeit one with a print sidekick that did a lot of the heavy ad-sales lifting.

Now, as Washington seems to be waking up to the renewed promise of subscription models, POLITICO is setting out to show that people who really need to know what’s going on in the corridors of policy-making power will pay for the privilege.

POLITICO Pro, the tech, energy and health care policy subscription service that POLITICO is launching Wednesday, is entering a competitive playing field now populated by longstanding trade publications, veteran subscription players like CQ and National Journal and well-funded newcomers like Bloomberg Government.

And it’s betting that it can do to them what POLITICO did to political journalism when it entered the scene four years ago.

“We’re faster,” said Tim Grieve, POLITICO Pro’s editor-in-chief. “We focus more on the inside game. I think our writing is sharper. I think we do not feel obligated to be the paper of record. We choose stories that we think are interesting and we tell those stories. POLITICO Pro is different from the other policy products out there in the same way that POLITICO is different from the other political publications out there.”

The Washingtonian reports:

This week, [John] Harris and his Politico cofounder, former Post reporter Jim VandeHei, are launching their nichiest venture yet. It’s called Politico Pro. And while the name awkwardly suggests that the original product was some kind of amateur operation, it fits. “Pro” is a fateful step in Politico’s evolution, from a scrappy start-up initially dismissed as folly by the established Beltway media players into the most ambitious and arguably most important political news organization in Washington. Politico Pro is actually a collection of three news organizations, each devoted to covering the “politics behind policymaking,” as Harris and VandeHei put it, on health care, energy, and technology. Politico’s founders are betting that their rapid-fire, buzzy approach to news reporting can rev up the metabolism of the historically studious game of trade reporting and make in-depth looks at key policy fields an essential read. It’s a gamble, but one they’re willing to take in order to grow their brainchild and make the Politico enterprise more competitive beyond its traditional base of politics-and-campaigns coverage.

Deterrents to learning

In chapter 7 Graber discusses how the presentation of news stories can severely inhibit the viewer's ability to learn about the topic at hand. As she notes "The presentation of stories in disconnected television snippets complicates the task of making sense out of news stories and integrating them with existing knowledge, This is especially true when stories are complex, as are most reports about controversial public policies. People who feel that they cannot understand what is happening are discouraged from spending time reading or listening" (177).

This reminded me of a report that I heard on NPR the other day that addresses how statistics relating to our economy and stock market are relayed to the public through news reports. Basically, the take home point is that the dialogue surrounding the stock market is too abstract for the general public.

Full transcript here:

Chris Arnold: If you'd turned on the financial news channel CNBC this week, you might have found yourself wishing that you had a translator. Most people can wrap their head around the Dow Industrials Average, but after that, things can get a lot more complicated pretty fast.

Unidentified woman: What would you advise to do right now, Dave?

Dave: I'm seeing a lot of volume picking up in the VSX, which is the Vick's short-term ETF. But I would also recommend playing some reversion to the mean.

Arnold: This is really confusing.

Dave: Maybe start taking some money out of the queues. You know, but why don't we rotate maybe into the KB, to the money center banks or the IYR, the wreaths. We're starting to see renewed confidence in the CNBS market...

The Planned Parenthood Sting

Graber (p. 153) discusses the ethics of "sting" operations. One broadcast news code of ethics frowns on them, but does not absolutely rule them out. A recent story involves not only the issue of sting operations but also the use of video from third parties.

CBS reports:
Planned Parenthood has long been criticized by abortion rights opponents. The organization has 800 clinics across the United States. Recently a handful of them were targeted by a video sting.

CBS News chief legal correspondent reports the FBI is investigating. The videos are troubling with actors portraying a pimp and a prostitute seeking abortions for young sex workers. The target: Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading provider of reproductive services, counseling, contraception and abortion.

Pimp in video: "We're involved in sex work."

Planned Parenthood Supervisor: "Mm hmm."

Pimp: "We have some girls that are kind of young like, 14, 15, that they might need an abortion."

Planned Parenthood Supervisor: "Mm hmm."

Pimp: "And, how is the best way should they could go about it?"

Planned Parenthood Supervisor: "They just show up."

In the past week anti-abortion group Live Action has released undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood staffers all too eager to help purported teenage sex workers get abortions and contraception.

Planned Parenthood Supervisor: "Here's the thing. If they're minors, just tell them to put down that they're students."

Pimp: "Students."

Planned Parenthood Supervisor: "Yeah, just kind of play along that they're students. We want to make it look as legit as possible."
Video here (not embeddable)

A Possible Explanation for the "Effects Method"

As Graber points out, the impact of the media on adult and child behavior is, though certainly existent, oddly vague. In his Ten Things Wrong with the Media Effects Model, David Gauntlett here describes his reasoning behind why this is the case. Though this is not his first theory on the issue – before this article he published an argument that there is simply no effect to be found – Gauntlett here suggests that researchers are just doing things wrong. Though Gauntlett is a British professor (of media and communications) and therefore is probably most closely addressing British media, his argument may be a fair explanation (or at least theory) for Graber’s issue of elusiveness in what Gauntlett is calling the “effects method.”

Briefly summarized, Gauntlett’s ten major points suggest that:

1) Researchers are studying backwards; instead of looking to the media first and seeing how it impacts people (most notably children), they ought to look to people who have acted out and study their media-influenced backgrounds. He uses the example of violent teens to drive home the point that this is a more effective method of research.

2) Children and adults ought to be tested similarly so as to prove or disprove similarities in test results; regardless of developmental stages, children can be used as a tool to better measure media impact.

3) A conservative tone is being cast over “the more contemporary and challenging aspects of the mass media” as the sources of negative media influence.

4) Effects model has allowed itself to define its own terms and, in doing so has created guidelines that lead to easily misinterpreted or understated data.

5) Real, in-depth studies are expensive and time consuming. As a result, researchers have taken shortcuts in their studies so much that the results are now difficult to trust.

6) Methodology in this field has been known to be faulty or inaccurately interpreted. Oftentimes steps are performed but difficult to prove and thus suggest that something important has been skipped or overlooked.

7) Violence is generally only criticized when posed in a fictional setting. For some reason, real violence shown in news broadcast is not included in study evaluation and criticism.

8) Those conducting effects method research tend to deny that they, like their study participants, have been impacted by the media. This is ironic because these researchers are exposed to the media more than most.

9) The effects model suggests that the media has one singular message and that, judging from their data, researchers can identify this message clearly.

10) “The effects model is not grounded in theory.” No one has ever tried to answer the question of “why” the media influences us; instead the focus has always been on “how.”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

California Watch and Investigative Journalism

We have been discussing in class how major newspapers often neglect political issues in California because they lack offices and staff in Sacramento capable of covering the California government beat. In addition, we talked last time about how investigative journalism becoming less common, partly due to how expensive it has become. Though this might be true The Center of Investigative Journalism's (which is a non-profit organization) California Watch has been hopefully helping to keep important investigative journalism alive in California.

Just a few weeks ago California Watch launched a media network which will be able to supply investigative journalism content to major California news sources and work with the news sources to create their own original investigative content:

BERKELEY, CA –– California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, today launched the California Watch Media Network and announced its first members, which include some of the state’s largest and most reputable news organizations.

Joining the network are the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union Tribune, Orange County Register, Bakersfield Californian, and the Fresno Bee.

The news organizations that are part of the California Watch Media Network will receive stories and daily news posts from California Watch, the state’s largest investigative reporting team. The new group also will work to find ways to collaborate together on investigative reporting projects.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crisis and the Agenda

In 1963, CBS announced that someone had shot the president, then returned to regular programming:

At 4:45, Cronkite announced official word of JFK's death:

Ruby shoots Oswald at 13:00

On CBS, 9/11:

Anderson Cooper v. Mary Landrieu over Katrina:

First Amendment disparity between corporations and the press

From NYT:

"In the year since the Supreme Courthanded down its 183-page decision inCitizens United, the liberal objection to it has gradually boiled down to a single sentence: The majority was wrong to grant First Amendment rights to corporations.

That critique is incomplete. As Justice John Paul Stevensacknowledged in his dissent, the court had long recognized that “corporations are covered by the First Amendment.” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, listed more than 20 precedents saying that.

But an old and established rule can still be wrong, and it may be that the liberal critique is correct. If it is, though, it must confront a very hard question. If corporations have no First Amendment rights, what about newspapers and other news organizations, almost all of which are organized as corporations?

The usual response is that the press is different. The First Amendment, after all, protects “the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Since “the press” is singled out for protection, the argument goes, media corporations enjoy First Amendment rights while other corporations do not.

But the argument is weak. There is a little evidence that the drafters of the First Amendment meant to single out a set of businesses for special protection. Nor is there much support for that idea in the Supreme Court’s decisions, which have rejected the argument that the institutional press has rights beyond those of the other speakers."

Media Consolidation

Having the media controlled by roughly 20 or so megacorporations has clearly had a deleterious effect -- lessening competition, squelching dissent, choking off debate, and elevating profit over the public good.

By combining HuffPost with AOL's network of sites, thriving video initiative, local focus, and international reach, we know we'll be creating a company that can have an enormous impact, reaching a global audience on every imaginable platform.

Arianna Huffington, in The Huffington Post, February 7, 2011, announcing its acquisition by AOL.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl of Interviews: Obama vs O'Reilly

While the Steelers and Packers were the marquee event of Super Bowl Sunday, the NFL on Fox decided to tackle (sorry for the lame football pun) some hard news with a pre-game interview of President Obama by Bill O'Reilly. Many people wondered whether there would be more contact during the interview or the actual game. O'Reilly did interrupt the President more than 20 times in the 15 minute interview.
As a Bears fan, the President of course had to pick against the Packers. It's interesting to see how the interview can go from such a heavy subject such as the crisis in Egypt to a debate about blitzes and touchdowns.
Here's the interview
Last year Mr. Obama sat down with Katie Couric since CBS broadcast the game. It's interesting that the biggest day in sports and biggest event in television each year is becoming an annual platform for a serious interview...not exactly what you expect all those football fans drinking Miller Lites and eating too many buffalo wings all day long to want to spend their tailgate time watching.

Murdoch's New Project

Last week, Rupert Murdoch launched the first "newspaper" exclusively designed, from scratch, for tablet devices.

The Daily, produced by a team of established, old-school journalists, premiered on the iPad last week in conjunction with a heavy push from Apple Inc. to promote the application, which can be downloaded from the software giant's iTunes Store.

Unlike some other news applications offered, The Daily will require a fee of its readers after two months of use.

Speaking to journalists at the Guggenheim in New York, Murdoch called the production of the app an effort to "completely reimagine our craft," and suggested it would become "the future of journalism."

But whether its possible for such a costly product to survive that provides the same news as other, free apps - including apps from Murdoch's own News Corp. - remains an open question.

While Murdoch has spent $30 million on the project, first critics of The Daily suggest the issue with the app is not its uniqueness as a business model, but whether it could become competitive as a necessary source of news.

One such critic was Slate's Jack Shafer, who related The Daily's founding to the start-up days of his own employer.

"Part of Slate's stuffiness derived from the fact that we were striving to make it look like a print magazine," Shafer wrote. "Why? Billions of people knew what a print magazine looked like, but only the few hundred thousand who had ever read Salon or Feed knew what a Webzine was supposed to look like."

Shafer continued: "The Daily needs to stop being a novelty app and start being an essential app."