Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Story of Politico

How North Korea Accused The Washington Post

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea, issued an official response to an article written by The Washington Post's Max Fisher. 
Max Fisher's article on March 22, titled "Report: North Korea ordered its foreign diplomats to become drug dealers," was based on South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo's reporting. North Korean state media accused this article for being a "mouthpiece for the "hostile" South Korean and U.S governments." KCNA concluded by saying that the Post's hostile reporting on North Korea means it has to defend itself by strengthening its nuclear weapon. 

To address KCNA's response, Max Fisher wrote an article in reponse to N.Korea's response. 

This exchange of responses shows
1. How North Korea uses media to promote its propaganda
2. How sensitive one country's media reacts to those of other countries. 

The Media and the Washington Community

A few points of style:

The new environment (Malecha, 26):
Words uttered on talk radio and cable TV, once considered almost entirely disposable, are now etched onto servers around the world. They can end up on sites such as YouTube where they are viewed time and again by people well beyond the target audience. They can be redirected to potential critics via e-mail, as happened in this case. In other words, they live on and can come back to haunt the people responsible for them.
Newt talks about the new Washington of the 1980s.

Changes in technology

New players (an explanation from Education Week):

Think tanks
Lobbying (data in the link do not account for outside lobbying)
The example of religious groups

Issue networks, revolving doors ... and jobs

Mail, E-mail, and Congress
Congress and Social Media

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BuzzFeed Goodies

The 7 Most God-Awful Websites In The Senate

The push towards digital has left some people behind. 

This Anti-Gay Tweet That Went Viral Is Actually Fake

A fake Twitter account for a Rep from CA's 55th district, which doesn't exist, received coverage for his gay marriage tweet. This is not the first time the media has been duped by this account.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Congress and the Media

China's New First Lady

Peng is one of China's most celebrated folksingers

Peng's debut as first lady in Moscow

The 12th National People's Congress in March witnessed the end of an era. The country welcomed a new president, a new Politburo Standing Committee, a new State Council and a new first lady.
Peng Liyuan, wife of China's new president, Xi Jingping, made her debut as first lady accompanying Xi's first overseas trip to Moscow. 
The Atlantic describes her as having all the right qualities of a first lady: "ease in the spotlight, approachable beauty, and her own powerful fame."
Peng, a popular folksinger for over 30 years, has been a public figure long before her new status as first lady, even surpassing her husband Xi's fame until recent years. Aside from being a singer, she serves as ambassador for tobacco control, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS for the World Health Organization, an initiative aided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Since Xi's appointment to party leader last November, Peng's conspicuous absence from the public rose speculations of whether she would follow the orthodoxical first lady and stay out of the spotlight. 
However, recent developments, including her debut in Moscow, suggests the new government reconsidering her role in politics and foreign relations; she is reported to host speaking engagement at the coming BRIC summit.
Peng's status, experience and modest background equips her better than any previous first lady in dealing with domestic media. Observers say she helps in softening Xi's political image keeping him, and the party, in touch with the general public. 
Peng new role represents a shift in public relations between the new government, the public and the press. In the 12th National People's Congress, State Council restructured and cut down ministries and commissions, including the merge of State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the General Administration of Press and Publication into a new bureau paving the convergence of television, telecommunication and the internet. Xinhua New Agency, the official press agency for the PRC and originally a subordinate of the State Council, will become an independent new corporation. 
Xi is also donned as China's first social media president.He, or someone close to him, maintains a personal Weibo (Chinese equivalent of Twitter) account, the first source to leak key details of his schedule and close-up pictures of his daily life. A surprising development in a country with no Facebook or Twitter. 

A Case Study in Media Interaction

A couple of blog posts:

Then a couple of Twitter mentions:

Then some more reverb:

Then a piece on
Then a mention on an NPR podcast

The result:  a spike in pageviews:

Six-Page Essay Assignment

Choose one of the following:

1. If you are covering the legislative simulation, write an essay comparing and contrasting your experience with that of reporters covering the real Congress. In your essay, explain the opportunities and constraints that you encountered. How did you use the participants, and how did they use you? How did coverage affect the behavior of the participants? You should draw upon course materials, including class discussions and the Malecha-Reagan book.

2. Write a postscript to the Iyengar book, dealing with the 2012 presidential race. How did the events of that campaign confirm or disconfirm Iyengar's analysis of campaign coverage (esp. chapters 5, 6, and 9). Were there any major developments that the book did not fully anticipate?

3.  Drawing on the Malecha-Reagan book, write a memo to the Republican or Democratic leadership of the House or Senate laying out a communications strategy to position the party for the 2014 midterm campaign.  In your analysis, take careful account of political circumstances and the party's status as the majority or minority.  Also note the different roles of the formal congressional party leadership, the party congressional campaign committees, congressional committees, and individual members.

4.  Pick a "niche" issue that is typically not at the top of the news agenda (e.g., food safety, NASA funding, research on Alzheimer's Disease).  Examine coverage both in mainstream media outlets (e.g., The New York Times) and specialized media (e.g., issue blogs, social media).   What facets of the issue are showing up in the specialized media but not in the mainstream media?  Examine the interaction of the mainstream and specialized media:  is one driving coverage in the other?

  • Essays should be typed (12-point) stapled, double-spaced, and no more than six pages long. I will not read past the sixth page. 
  • Put your name on a cover sheet that is blank on the reverse side. 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, April 10. 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.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

North Korea as the Prime Suspect for the Recent Cyber Attack on South Korea

On Wednesday, servers of the major South Korean broadcasters--KBS, YTN, and MBC--and two commercial banks had been brought down by a cyber attack. South Korean officials said that the hackers used IP address from China, a strong piece of evidence that North Korea is behind the recent cyber attack. 

Experts said that North Korea's aim might be to divert South's attention to cyber terror so that North can plan a local warfare.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Analysis of the 2012 Campaign

Thanks to Jon for flagging the new report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism. We shall draw upon this report in the weeks ahead, including this analysis of 2012 campaign:


State of the News Media 2013

Here's an interesting info-graphic from the Pew Research Center's 2013 State of the News Media report that was released today. The report confirms the continuing decline of hard news stories in local media, among other troubling findings.

Check it out here:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

media ownership issue

In class we talked about media ownership and regulation.

Think Progress reported on March 12 that David and Charles Koch may purchase the Tribune Company newspapers.

Now what will this lead to?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sport and Media Evolution

AP has a new video that is nominally about sports but is really about the rapid evolution of the mass media in general:

Habemus Papam

Overrepresentation in the Senate

The power of smaller states has continued to grow in the past few decades. The Great Compromise of 1787 gave states equal representation in one house, the Senate, and proportional representation in the House of Representatives. In the last few decades; however, this senate disparity among small and large states has increased and the 21 smallest states in the United States have the population equal to California, but 42 Senators instead of California’s two. This is contrary to the long-standing democratic principle of “one man, one vote,” and in time can prove to be even more problematic.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

News and Governing in Washington

Review: a typology of leaks

 "The Education of David Stockman"

Novak had a temper, even with Evans:

He still had a temper in 2005:


 Late in life, he explained the leak in the Valerie Plame case:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mr. Paul, Mr. D'Amato, and Mr. Smith

Post on the filibuster, including news, clips, and the Jon Stewart take

Post on the Rand Paul filibuster and social media

Post on the Al D'Amato filibuster

A couple of clips from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington illustrates 1930s attitudes toward mass media

In this clip, Mr. Smith reacts to some negative coverage:


 The most relevant part of this clip starts at about 6 minutes in:


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The he said, she said of the Menendez saga

As you political nerds and news junkies may have heard, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has been embroiled in a series of unsavory scandals as of late. Perhaps the "juiciest" aspect of the multi-part scandal is that the Senator solicited a Dominican prostitute or two while on a recent visit to the country. The unreported flight was paid for by one Dr. Salomon Melgen, a top Menendez donor, whose offices were recently raided by the FBI. Also, at least one of these prostitutes was supposedly  underage.

...or was she?
Come to think of these prostitutes actually exist? If so, did they ever actually meet the Senator?
Where does this rich guy from Florida come in?
Who is getting this information, and where is it coming from?!

The Washington Post, reporting information from the Daily Caller, just recently altered or outright recanted parts of its original report, without informing its readers of the alterations. The most recent Politico article that attempts to unravel the convoluted saga can be seen right here

In short, no one really knows what's going on.

Is Sen. Menendez dirty? Is he a victim of a bizarre smear campaign?

Either way, there appears to be some really poor reporting & fact-checking going on here.

Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez dies at age 58

At 1:55pm, the Associated Press reported that the Venezuelan vice president, Nicolas Maduro, made a statement that Hugo Chavez had passed away.  Chavez had been battling cancer for about 2 years but was still involved in his country's politics as president.  The tone taken to characterize Chavez throughout the piece was also interesting.  

Following that, there have been stories about President Obama speaking out to reaffirm support for Venezuela. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pennsylvania Schools Put on Lockdown Because of Fresh Prince Theme

In a more surreal piece of news related to our talk regarding institutions created to solve a problem (in this case, gun control), a Pennsylvania school receptionist caused a county-wide school lock-down when she misunderstood the lyrics "shooting some b-ball outside the school" as "shooting some people outside the school" when listening to a student's voice mail rendition of the Fresh Prince theme. The student, who, ironically, was in his school's guidance counselor office at the time, was taken into custody by the police, but then later released when the police realized he was just imitating the song.

Check out the Post's full article here.

Yellow Journalism

This is an interesting video in which Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota calls out the host on Fox News, Sean Hannity. He refers to Hannity's deceptive tactics as yellow journalism.,AAAAAETmrZQ~,EVFEM4AKJdRI6UgfPhFgV0s-3wZ2v95n&bctid=2191718522001

Random Comments on Writing and Analysis



  • Do not assume that ownership dictates editorial policy or that editorial policy creates bias in news coverage.
  • Remember that "coverage" may consist of a set of stories, not just one.
  • Be careful to distinguish hard news coverage from analysis and commentary.  Also distinguish op-eds from material by the news organization's own staff.

Media Effects and the Agenda

Example of experimental design (See page 234 of Iyengar)  those who saw the negative version were less likely to vote.

Example of episodic v. thematic framing (See p 254 of Iyengar)

A nice summary of concepts:

From an article on planning:

At Politico, Jonathan Martin writes of timing and gun control:
Gun-control advocates hoped the shattering December murder of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., would upend the de facto non-aggression pact on federal gun laws that both political parties have consented to in the last decade. But now that expanded background checks seem to be the only initiative that may pass Congress, the most powerful bloc of gun-control proponents in the country is conceding that the gripping sense of outrage following the Sandy Hook massacre has ebbed.
Democratic governors fault Washington lawmakers for not acting more aggressively but, more strikingly, some even point a finger at Americans themselves for not keeping up the pressure on elected officials.
“I think the public outrage at this has somewhat waned and that makes the consensus harder to achieve,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, adding: “[S]adly, after the funerals, for too many of us as Americans, our attention turns to other things and that makes it harder to achieve the consensus, and nothing moves terribly fast in Washington anyway.”
O’Malley, who has been one of the loudest voices for gun restrictions, recalled that he and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell both predicted after Sandy Hook that there would be a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban within six months.
“It hasn’t happened,” said O’Malley.

Baby Cured of HIV

Yesterday doctors in Mississippi have reportedly cured an HIV positive baby. This is the second reported case of a cure for HIV, but the first in pediatrics. This is an interesting story in regards to the reading for this week and the "Attention-Issue Cycle". While HIV/AIDS continue to be a prominent issue in science and medicine, especially in developing countries, it seems to fall in and out of general attention of the public. The cycle of heightened and then lessened public attention in the US towards HIV/AIDS is especially fascinating given that it is such a serious health issue, in contrast to environmental policies which could be characterized as a more abstract issue than HIV/AIDS.

Here's a link to the BBC article about the cure:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dennis Rodman on ABC's "This Week"

Here's an incredibly bizarre look at international diplomacy and the media: Dennis Rodman talking to George Stephanopoulos about his recent visit to North Korea and his new BFF, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. I'm curious as to how North Korean state-run media portrayed Rodman's visit.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Woodward Affair and Anonymous Sources

At The Washington Post, Paul Farhi writes about the conflict between Bob Woodward and the White House:
(And if you’re a fan of inside baseball, don’t even get started on the political-media daisy chain and incest fest at work here: that is, Woodward first spouted off in The Post, then spouted off further to two Politico reporters, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, who used to work with Woodward at The Post, whose reporter now is following up the Politico article by quoting Woodward about a story initiated by Woodward himself.)
This past week, we talked about reporting and anonymous sources. At National Journal, Ron Fournier writes about a White House official's reaction to a tweet comparing Obama and Nixon.
I had angered the White House, particularly a senior White House official who I am unable to identify because I promised the person anonymity. Going back to my first political beat, covering Bill Clinton’s administration in Arkansas and later in Washington, I’ve had a practice that is fairly common in journalism: A handful of sources I deal with regularly are granted blanket anonymity. Any time we communicate, they know I am prepared to report the information at will (matters of fact, not spin or opinion) and that I will not attribute it to them.
This is an important way to build a transparent and productive relationship between reporters and the people they cover. Nothing chills a conversation faster than saying, “I’m quoting you on this.”
The official angered by my Woodward tweet sent me an indignant e-mail. “What’s next, a Nazi analogy?” the official wrote, chastising me for spreading “bull**** like that” I was not offended by the note, mild in comparison to past exchanges with this official. But it was the last straw in a relationship that had deteriorated.
As editor-in-chief of National Journal, I received several e-mails and telephone calls from this White House official filled with vulgarity, abusive language, and virtually the same phrase that Politico characterized as a veiled threat. “You will regret staking out that claim,” The Washington Post reporter was told.
Once I moved back to daily reporting this year, the badgering intensified. I wrote Saturday night, asking the official to stop e-mailing me. The official wrote, challenging Woodward and my tweet. “Get off your high horse and assess the facts, Ron,” the official wrote.
I wrote back:
“I asked you to stop e-mailing me. All future e-mails from you will be on the record -- publishable at my discretion and directly attributed to you. My cell-phone number is … . If you should decide you have anything constructive to share, you can try to reach me by phone. All of our conversations will also be on the record, publishable at my discretion and directly attributed to you.”
I haven’t heard back from the official. It was a step not taken lightly because the note essentially ended our working relationship. Without the cloak of anonymity, government officials can’t be as open with reporters – they can’t reveal as much information and they can’t explain the nuance and context driving major events.