News in the news
What’s right and what’s wrong with the news industry these days?
Much seems wrong, of late. Witness the truly sordid journalism run amok in the phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World.
What about closer to home? How fare the media and journalists who feed the ravenous beast?
A young, up-and-coming journalist in Canada is making waves with his “Why I quit my job” blog post.
Kai Nagata says he liked his job, in many ways. But he left a plum position with some critical views on news gathering in general, and TV news, in particular.
Criticizing TV news in public radio circles is only too easy. Public radio knows it is – or certainly wants to be – far superior to most of that twaddle. But Nagata’s essay asks questions worth pondering, in any format. Who determines the scope, direction and content of reporting? What constraints exist, spoken and unspoken?
Nagata’s essay is well-written, if a bit wordy – something I understand only too well myself. (Being wordy, I mean. Well-written, not so much.) And it’s easy to argue that advocacy of personal views doesn’t belong in objective coverage. So if Nagata now needs to speak his mnd, maybe quitting was the correct response. That or become a columnist, where standards differ.
But Nagata nails two markedly regrettable trends: chasing the lowest hanging fruit and the race to the bottom. Something just exemplified by excessive coverage of a perfectly pleasant – but minor event. As Nagata wrote:
… it creates things like the Kate and Will show. Wall-to-wall, breaking-news coverage of a stage-managed, spoon-fed celebrity visit, justified by the couple’s symbolic relationship to a former colony, codified in a document most Canadians have never read (and one province has never signed). On a weekend where there was real news happening in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, and around the world, what we saw instead was a breathless gaggle of normally credible journalists, gushing in live hit after live hit about how the prince is young and his wife is pretty. And the public broadcaster led the charge.
Yes, I am guilty of filing a few small items about the royals. But I was left wondering if the outbreak of WW III would have generated the coverage just seen here, regarding that particular visit.
It was nuts. And that sort of thing seems to be the new normal.
There’s a curse filled with dark humor: “May you live in interesting times”.
As print media wrestles with incredible challenges, TV continues to re-define its role, public broadcasting struggles on many fronts and so-called new media continues to evolve, it does make me wonder, what IS news, anyway? Because I don’t always feel what I hear and read fits the definition.
So what public interest, what personal curiosity, should a news function serve? And, in the case of Murdoch-like excess, who will watch the watchers?
Tags: canada, CTV, Kai Nagata, news media
Twaddle? You can say that on this blog?
I don’t know what things are like in Canada but here in the states we have a problem that is even more insidious than the wire tapping bit, people and groups with a strong conservative bias (like Murdoch but there are many others as well) are buying more and more media outlets and the news is becoming more slanted all the time — and it ain’t a liberal slant. Look for yourselves; who owns the newspapers, television stations and radio stations you read/see/hear every day?
Is there any real news reporting on tv anymore, like in the 60’s and 70’s (Walter Cronkite)? If so, I haven’t found it.
You will find real news on the Internet. Why waste time with TV? Dropped my cable and landline and don’t miss either. Nothing but “Twaddle” on TV anyway.I even get my public radio news off the Internet more than I actually listen to the radio.
As all things evolve, they seem to be devolving as well.
If this is what a bunch of common journalists are capable of, i hate to think what truley unscrupulous, better “equiped” (money, technology) “people” (organizations, Governments) are doing to get what they think they “need” (want)
All lines have been blurred, and integrity no longer exists, and it’s not just journalism, but you all knew this.
One of the things he bemoans is the emphasis on sports because that get eyeballs. I long ago noted that the local evening TV “news” (I’m using the term loosely) devotes more time to sports than to everything else. The weather guy sometimes has to almost reach auctioneer speed to get it in in his allotted time so that the sports guy can fit in all the heroic or ridiculous plays that happened in games that have no influence on the future of anything or anybody except what outrageous salaries they will be offered next year.
News has become just another form of entertainment and the public is as much or more to blame than the media. The media feeds us what we will consume and most of us would rather see/hear that which comforts us in our beliefs than to be challenged to question whether those beliefs might be wrong. “My mind is made Up. Don’t trouble me with facts” is the norm.
I agree with Jim, it is about what sells. I think there is a market for more serious news, political, economic, foreign policy, business, but it is a smaller market than the one for gossip, celebrities, British Royals, a sexy psychopathic women who probably killed her child.
I mean you look at the revenue produced for one show; Nancy Grace by squeezing one case; the Anthony case for the past 3 years and compare that to the revenue produced by covering the European debt crisis.
I lost my faith in most television and radio news back when the Soviet Union was falling. IIRC at that time CNN was the only cable news outlet and I happened to catch the tanks shelling the gov’t. buildings. I switched to CBS/NBC/ABC. They were showing soap operas and game shows! Radio, including NPR, was sticking with it’s regular programing while the guys with the missile codes were hanging on by a thread.
Who made those decisions? Someone did. IMO the vast majority of professional news outlets are all on the same page no matter who owns them. Ruppert Murdoch is the current boogey man, but ol’ Ruppert is a liberal through and through. He’s also a capitalist through and through and wants to make money, money, money. I’d lie to believe at least some of the news we get is pure and unfiltered, but I’m not that naive.
There will always be some bias in everything. However I think there is some reporting that is simply closer to reporting the facts of a situation. Now I realize that even the facts are open to interpretation, but having an ideal of at least trying to report objective facts about what is happening is worth something to me. I think there is a market for an attempt at unbiased journalism I just don’t think it is that large.
“Ruppert Murdoch is the current boogey man, but ol’ Ruppert is a liberal through and through…”
I don’t think the word liberal means what you think it means.
Brian did ask about what’s right. Here’s an example:
Horrors of horrors, things are so bad now. Really?
You make your choices and you lay your money down or not.
Somewhere along the line, the public is responsible. Turn on and tune in or turn off and tune out.
There is so much choice out there today that it’s easy and a bit presumptuous to complain over what you don’t like.
On a personal level, I couldn’t care less about the lives of so called Stars, murder trials in other states or even in other counties of this state. Everyone who picks up a newspaper or turns on the news on radio or TV has their own reasons for doing so. Each news organization presents what it believes will attract the most readers, listeners, viewers. They all want ads. Public radio and TV call the ads donors or sponsors. No real difference.
So after all is said and done, you make your choice.
If stations and broadcast networks were required as part of their licensing to present news that was subsidized by their other programming ad revenues instead of all the prescription drug ads that now pay for it, maybe we’d get some real news. At the very least the news hour would be an hour instead of 35-40 minutes.
You will find real news on the Internet.
Really? Look at the AP headline on excite.
“Obama, Republicans trapped by inflexible rhetoric”.
Obama is being inflexible? Just which party is unwilling to compromise? Hint: it’s not the Democrats. Good accurate news from the AP.
People in the industry are talking about what’s less-than-pretty in TV journalism.
Here’s another blog entry forwarded my way this morning, entitled: BULLETIN: “Dog Kills Local TV News Writer!”
It’s a funny, but unsettling, comment on the sausage machine of the modern TV newsroom by veteran journalist Claude Adams.
Worth a read. But I warn you. It’s sad.
For everyone interested in the role of the media in contemporary culture I recommend the newest addition to the NCPR program schedule, NPR’s On the Media, Sundays 10 to 11am. It’s an award winning show that tackles big and serious issues with wit and considerable fun.
Bret: “I’d lie to believe at least some of the news we get is pure and unfiltered”
I realize it is just a typo. Is there such a thing as a Freudian typo?
This Murdoch scandal really is a lot more than business-as-usual-all-media-are-rotten-blahblahblah. Like Lucy’s link, this timeline is worth taking the time to read. They stole a murder victim’s voicemails and erased them, leading the victim’s parents to believe she was alive. It’s truly criminal:
When times get tough, more and more people turn to a machiavelian philosophy. The ends justify the means.
They ask themselves whose face they shave in the morning, and the answer is always a selfish “mine”.
OA, the 9:50 link takes me to the Pulitzer report? I’m missing something. And in the 11:42 post, I went through it, are you saying Murdock is or isn’t involved? Or isn’t he part of it at all. Sorry to be dense but I’m not at all familiar with news happenings in Britain.
Knuck, I try not to lie at all. The same cannot be said for everyone.
Bret4207, I think OA’s link was intended to add something to the “what’s right with journalism today?” side of the ledger. (Where investigative journalism helped correct a salary rip-off in California.)
As for the phone hacking scandal… it is alleged that at least some employees of Murdoch-owned publications made a regular practice of gaining unauthorized access to the private phone and other records of newsworthy targets. (As detailed in this article.)
Some would say public figures (like movie stars, royalty etc.) can’t really expect anything less. But when the cell phone of a kidnapped and murdered teen gets hacked, arguably impacting the efforts of family and police to rescue the victim, that’s truly stomach-turning.
It is also alleged that police tasked with investigating such charges in earlier cases were themselves targeted and hacked.
Many of these accusations and speculative charges have yet to be fully investigated. And where offenses are not in dispute, it is still unknown/unproven who bears ultimate responsibility for their authorization.
On a larger scale, the whole mess carries serious implications.
The power to (one way or another) extract and selectively publicize personal information, to endorse or oppose political candidates, may have given individuals like Murdoch excessive influence over careers and events throughout Great Britain. (Some in the British press have compared the unholy reach of that sort of journalism to the corrupting power of the mafia in Italy.)
It is being called a scandal of Watergate proportions, and it won’t stay put in England either, as Murdoch owns the Wall Street Journal and Fox News.
There is an undeniable element of piling on right now. Some of which appears hypocritical and self-serving. (As if only one media mogul can be blamed for all that is sneaky, distasteful or criminal in modern tabloid journalism. As if media moguls haven’t always been powerful figure with much influence over people and events. As if politicians don’t actively court those relationships, of their own free will.)
NYT columnist Roger Cohen argues some of those points in a defense of Murdochhere.
Whatever you make of the players and the situation, it’s a huge story, involving important issues. Expect it to come ashore here too.
Adding, for Bret, that yes, the LA Times story was an example of “what’s right?” which Brian asked in the initial post. As to Murdoch, it’s not known if he personally signed off on any of these particular offenses (which keep mushrooming every week), but he owns all the papers in question.
Finally, back to Lucy’s comment, go ahead and call me a hypocrite, but I don’t think it’s OK for celebrities or royals or politicians to be illegally spied on, let alone victims of high-profile tragedies. Here’s a good, if long, reply to the Cohen column: http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/07/11/murdochs_enablers_then_and_now/#more
The British hacking story is a big deal. At some level this is just traditional organized crime utilizing blackmail of personal information, extortion etc. Think of the power you would have when people in power understand that you have access to their personal information, it is much like the Hoover files.
Thank you Lucy and OA, now I get it. I think any journalist that does what is alleged is certainly worthy of the title scum sucking low life. What that has to do with Scary Rupert I don’t know beyond him owning the paper. But other news outlets have certainly been guilty of at least massaging the truth, if not such nasty deeds as this case. Reuters got caught photo shopping pictures to add “bling” to war stories a couple years back, Dan Rathers foolish belief in a manufactured document cost him his job, I think it was NBC planting explosives on a truck to get it explode during a consumer safety story when they couldn’t get the thing to blow up on it’s own, I’m sure there are other equally boneheaded moves people can think of.
AS far as the hacking/wiretapping, where was all this outrage when the “retired couple” just happened to catch (and record) a conversation between high ranking Republicans? Like any patriotic Americans would, they immediately turned the recording over to the DNC and the news of course. I forget what the dirt was but that was no more “right” than any of this other stuff.
You know, we make fun of our little local papers but at least with them you know where the people stand.
What disgusts me the most is Murdock owns so much, has so much money, homes all over the glode….
Does he really need more?
To get more does he need to resort to underhanded measures?
When is enough enough, and when is the means of getting enough considered too much?
Just because one can does not mean you should.
Whether he o.k.’d it, only knew of it afterward, Murdock should be imprisoned for such tactics.
Two cents, are you going to go after Warren Buffet too? Bill Gates? Lawrence Ellison? George Soros? Michael Bloomberg? Ron Perlman? The guy that owns Nike?- he just signed Michael Vick back up. What about the Mars family? Filthy rich off pet food and candy. Sorry, but when you talk about Murdoch and how much he has, he’s waaay down the list at #122 with a measly $7.6 B. He can’t compete with a lot of other people out there. Are you going to after Steve Jobs, James Simons, Mark Zuckerberg and the other fat cats too? If you want to talk about underhanded tactics, are you going to call for the entire Kennedy family to be imprisoned since their money came from bootlegging?
I’m not excusing any wrong doing, but sometimes we need to put things in perspective.
“What that has to do with Scary Rupert I don’t know beyond him owning the paper.”
Bret, he owns the papers. I think you are excusing wrongdoing. There’s more than one of them in question. More than that, he hired the woman who was running the main offending paper at the time, then promoted her. He finally had to let her go today. More than that, another of his editors involved in the scandal became British government spokesman. He, too, had to resign. Nine journalists have been arrested. Murdoch’s company paid off cops to spy on murder victims, perhaps even including 9/11 victims. Is that OK by you?
All the other examples you give have exactly nothing in common with this case, except that the owners have money, like Murdoch. Do you mean to say that nobody with any money ever does anything wrong, and that therefore we should not investigate moneyed people accused of wrongdoing, ever? And that the only alternative to investigating one possibly corrupt rich guy, whose holdings are proven to be involved in criminal activity, is to investigate everyone who is rich?
I don’t quite follow the reasoning. Or if I do, I really disagree with it.
Bret, i’m not going after anyone, what i’m saying is none of them would be welcome to my house for dinner if they have what i feel are questionable morals, and are what i think is an overwhelming appetite for greed.
There are a few on your list that i don’t think are unscrupulous.
As far as the kennedys, bootlegging is the least of their crimes.
The point you may have missed, or i lacked to make clear was Murdock has enough resources to play the game “fairly” and he need not succumd to the dark side.
Two cents and OA, this is the line I was referring to- “What disgusts me the most is Murdock owns so much, has so much money, homes all over the glode….
Does he really need more?”
That’s simple class envy, he has sooooooooo much, just like all those other people. Class envy is not a redeeming quality. Does that mean I like Rupert? Nope, not even a little. He’s another fat cat, manipulator, user whose intentions are probably not very nice in the grand scheme of things, just like Soros, a man with near criminal intentions who gets a complete pass from the left and the press in general. Ol’ Rupert has some serious power and isn’t part of the correct clique, and frankly, that pisses people off, pardon my language please. Geogie has the lean to his politics so he gets a pass. I just find it….odd, I guess, that intelligent people get in a hissy fit over everything Rupert does and they ignore the other blatant news/politcal alliances. For instance, GE/NBC owns the White House pretty much. Doesn’t that bother anyone? Will it take Immelt committing a murder or something to wake people up?
Myself, I have no concern for Murdoch other than to point out that he’s no more than a boogey man. Cops paid off by journalists or big business?!!! Perish the thought! That’s NEVER happened before. (I do need a little clarification on this OA- “Murdoch’s company paid off cops to spy on murder victims, perhaps even including 9/11 victims.” Did you mean defendants or suspects? I don’t follow what you mean.) And Wrong doing by multinational corps, even involving murder or attempting to crash a countries economic system isn’t anything new. Is it right or am I excusing it? No, most certainly not. It just seems to me that all the focus is on the guy that has the wrong political stance in his papers and that nasty Faux News. You can toss Rupert in jail, fine. But are you going to go after all the other dirty birds that aren’t such easy targets too?
OA- “. Do you mean to say that nobody with any money ever does anything wrong, and that therefore we should not investigate moneyed people accused of wrongdoing, ever? ”
No sir, not at all. I’m all in favor of investigation lots of rich folks. Let’s start with a real public audit of the Fed, of our Congress, of Immelt and Soros and all the other movers and shakers. Do the Koch boys and the Walton family too, I don’t care. I’m betting there’s plenty of dirt to go around. But the press isn’t interested in dirt that doesn’t rub off on the “right” targets. Remember when Worldcom, Enron and Tyco were all going belly up? Funny the press never went looking too hard into the doing at Global Crossing where DNC chair Terry McAulife was invovled heavily with the company, turning his $100K investment into $18 MILLION in profits. Why is it that McAulife wasn’t lined up for a cell like Ken Lay?
Things like that are part of the reason all of us crazy right wing nut jobs
have a problem with the “main stream media”. We’d just like someone to take a stab at covering ALL the news instead of cherry picking the politically attractive stories.
Bret, maybe it isn’t class envy at all.
“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”
As far as I can tell Jesus would have been disgusted by that sort of wealth. Are you suggesting that Jesus suffered from class envy?
Bret, not class envy. just plain old confusion in regards to what someone can, or does with so much resources.
Just a little about myself- I value my ability to leave whithin my means more than i covet anyone’s wealth. Soooooooooooooooo that said, you read it wrong in regards to my comment on Murdocks larder, it was more a reflection of my disappointment in his use of it.
I believe there is always more one can do to better a situation rather than just proffit from it. My gut tells me he’s not a good person to anything or anyone but to his own.
Your assumptions of me, in regards to my comment are incorrect.
I’ll try to be more clear in the future. I type on the fly, i’m not composing a thesis.
oops talk about a freudian typo–… *live* whithin my means…
..I’ll leave for now…(grin)
Comon’ Knuck, that’s a low ball. Would Jesus have approved of much of what any of us do? I rather doubt it, but he’d be the first to accept our attempts to make it right. And I also think he’d see that picking and choosing one evil over another isn’t a winning situation.
Two, so it’s simply that you’d prefer he did with his money what you would like? Well, me too. Same for all the rich and famous. But since it’s not my money and since I don’t think I’d want him telling me what to do with my pittance…I guess it’s really none of my business. Same with Obama throwing himself a lavish B-day party 8/3, the day he’s threatened NOT to send out Social Security checks. I don’t have the $38K to buy the ticket to attend, but I’m sure Rupert could if he wanted to.
Bret, i made no suggestions to how Murdock or anyone on the list you provided should spend their money. I would leave that to him,(them) though i would hope it would be creative, innovative.
You read to much of what you want to hear into the posts.
What i did allude to was i dissaprove of the underlying motivation Murdock spends his money on. If his paper’s intent was trying to get a story, the big scoop– He owns all the newspapers, who is he competing for circulation with?!
His his intent was not professional, it was pure evil.
I think all the rich and famous have a wonderfull and LARGE
oportunity to make a difference for the better, if they choose.
Lets leave jesus and the like out of this.
Gee, I would hope that Jesus would approve of most of what we do.
Bret said, quoting an earlier comment:” “Murdoch’s company paid off cops to spy on murder victims, perhaps even including 9/11 victims.” Did you mean defendants or suspects? I don’t follow what you mean.)…”
Don’t have time to dig for all the links for you. Big story, though. Should be able to find them yourself. Another development today–http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/world/europe/18hacking.html?_r=1
just wanted to give him the day off, ya know, being sunday and all…:)
Two- See, this is what I mean about the “boogey man”- “…He owns all the newspapers, who is he competing for circulation with?!” Murdoch owns The Post, WSJ and NY Times. I count three (3) US newspapers. Not ALL the newspapers. He also owns “GQ Australia”, “Modern Boating” and “Two Wheels Scooter” magazine. Truly powerful and influential, that’s he way I’ve always thought of “Two Wheels Scooter” magazine. OTH, GE owns 49% of NBC and the White House. Disney owns ABC and ESPN. I’ll admit NBC and ABC, not to mention CNN/CBS don’t really match up to “Modern Boating” in terms of political clout, but still.
Seriously, Murdoch doens’t edit those papers he owns. They haven’t changed editorial policy that I know of since he acquired them. Dutch Schulzberger still heads up the Times and he hasn’t turned into a raving conservative lately. USA still outsells the Times. WSJ has always been pretty conservative, but certainly well respected. So what exactly do you want? Back before deregualtion America had 3 news sources on TV- CBS,NBC,ABC. Now you have a whole mess of news sources available, including international sources. Murdoch owns Fox and a portion of Sky News (39%) . So 2 stations and 3 papers. Even if you count Europe he’s only got 3 more papers.
I’m sorry, but while he’s a big player and a nasty guy, I don’t see him as any worse than Ted Turner was or Trump or Michael Isner was and certainly not in the class with the really big movers and shakers. Are some of his employees dirty? Oh yeah! But the only reason everyone is sooooo outraged at Murdoch is because he owns FOX News. If Murdoch didn’t own Fox this wouldn’t even rate any discussion.
OA- got it. I also found the more concise background-
“What, exactly, is the basis for all this outrage? The entire 9/11 hacking story comes from one piece in Monday’s Daily Mirror. Says the Mirror:
A former New York cop made the 9/11 hacking claim. He alleged he was contacted by News of the World journalists who said they would pay him to retrieve the private phone records of the dead….
A source said: “This investigator is used by a lot of journalists in America and he recently told me that he was asked to hack into the 9/11 victims’ private phone data. He said that the journalists asked him to access records showing the calls that had been made to and from the mobile phones belonging to the victims and their relatives.
“His presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the relevant voicemails, just like it has been shown they have done in the UK. The PI said he had to turn the job down. He knew how insensitive such research would be, and how bad it would look.”
Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2011/07/13/rupert-murdoch-and-the-911-victims/#ixzz1SSxCcdU4
Once again, an alleged incident from an unidentified source. Obamas grandma says he was born in Kenya, does that make it fact?
Yeah, Bret. That’s why I said “perhaps even including 9/11 victims.” The other documented stuff has forced 10 arrests, including the people Murdoch brought over to supervise his US operations. (I don’t see, therefore, where you get your phrase “once again, an alleged incident from an unidentified source.”) So with all that fire, it’s worth noting possible smoke on the 911 story. Also, conservative Peter King is calling for investigating this. The 911 story may be false, but it hasn’t been proven false yet, and it fits a pattern of goings-on within Murdoch’s company that has been proven true, unlike the Obama birther stuff.
But you have your reality, I have mine. Thank God Google gives us only what it perceives we want!
Accuracy patrol here regarding Bret4207 1013 am post: among his many holdings, Rupert Murdoch owns the New York Post, _not_ the New York Times.
Also, the oft-repeated claim Obama’s Grandmother stated he was born in Kenya has been well refuted. (Sarah Obama was a step-grandmother, if that matters.) There was a misunderstanding in the translation of that conversation with her, as detailed in this Slate blog post, among others. (Sarah Obama apparently thought “were you present when he was born?” meant were you alive when he was born? To which she said yes.) When pressed on that point, Sarah emphatically stated Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
Personally, I think any/all outlets that stoop that low should face prosecution (for criminal acts), vigorous civil actions that carry significant financial penalties, along with public condemnation and serious pressure to reform.
There a risk the backlash will be so strong that legitimate journalism will be tarred with the same brush, and that would be a shame.
Another journalist put it very well, saying the profession’s loyalty should be to the truth first, to the community second and only then to the employer or industry.
OK, in this dog-eat-dog world, intent on ratings/sales, that may seem overly idealistic.
But without some basic ethical standards, news media operating purely as self-serving creatures of profit (that also try to control police, politicians and elections) represent a VERY serious threat to threat to democratic society.
If Bret’s point is that many, many stables stand in need of a good mucking-out, I say fine, bring in the pitchforks and let the clean up begin.
FWIW Lucy, I got that he owned the Times from a Wikipedia entry! Should have known better. My apologies.
Bret, he does own the Times. The Times of London. It’s a different paper than the New York Times.
Yeah OA, that I remember, a couple of the tabloid types too over there. But the piece I read said the NYT. Seemed odd to me but that’s what it said.
I looked can’t find the same page I was using. Either way, I was wrong and should know better than to trust Wiki.