Archive for the 'Media' Category

Jim Lehrer on journalism

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

From Jim Lehrer, probably one of America’s finest journalists (and host of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS): yet more journalism guidelines.

For journalists, obviously, but also for bloggers who claim (or aspire) to be journalists.

Rocky Mountains PBS: Jim Lehrer in Denver

Jim Lehrer, anchor of “The NewsHour,” was in Denver December 8 for a Rocky Mountain PBS 50th anniversary luncheon. Lehrer spoke to a packed room at the Pinnacle Club about his career with “The NewsHour,” his work moderating presidential debates, his new novel — and even his early days as a Continental Trailways ticket agent in Victoria, Texas. Watch portions of Lehrer’s talk by topic or watch the entire speech below.

From his speech:

I was asked whether I had any personal guidelines we use in our practice of journalism on The NewsHour. Here’s part of what I sent them. Our guidelines, my guidelines.

  • Do nothing I cannot defend.
  • Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  • Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  • Assume the viewer is as smart, and as caring, and as good a person as I am.
  • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  • Assume personal lives are a private matter unless a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label everything.
  • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions.
  • No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  • And finally, I am not in the entertainment business.

Those are our guidelines.

Can you spell “highest standards”?  Setting up a blog is the easy part.

US foreign policy in bad shape

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Special comment by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann last night: Bush’s legacy: The president who cried wolf

Most importantly, perhaps, Mr. Bush, the plan fails because it still depends on your credibility.

[...]

In fact, when you briefed news correspondents off-the-record before the speech, they were told, once again, “if you knew what we knew … if you saw what we saw … ”

“If you knew what we knew” was how we got into this morass in Iraq in the first place.

The problem arose when it turned out that the question wasn’t whether we knew what you knew, but whether you knew what you knew.

You, sir, have become the president who cried wolf.

All that you say about Iraq now could be gospel.

All that you say about Iran and Syria now could be prescient and essential.

We no longer have a clue, sir.

We have heard too many stories.

[...]

Also worth reading is this recent article in the Washington Post by the former national coordinator for counterterrorism, Richard A. Clarke: While You Were at War . . .

Without the distraction of the Iraq war, the administration would have spent this past year — indeed, every year since Sept. 11, 2001 — focused on al-Qaeda. But beyond al-Qaeda and the broader struggle for peaceful coexistence with (and within) Islam, seven key “fires in the in-box” national security issues remain unattended, deteriorating and threatening, all while Washington’s grown-up 7-year-olds play herd ball with Iraq.

The “fires in the in-box”, in his view, are:

  • Global warming
  • Russian revanchism
  • Latin America’s leftist lurch
  • Africa at war
  • Arms control freeze
  • Transnational crime
  • The Pakistani-Afghan border

Not to mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where it seems the US has also taken a hands-off approach and pretty much nothing has been achieved over the past six years. That’s very little when you consider that this may well be the root cause for a plethora of other problems in the region and in the world today. The same goes for the conflict between Syria and Israel, or between Syria and Lebanon, or within Lebanon.

That part of the world is a complete mess (at least politically), but the US is not excerting the kind of leadership that’s needed to turn things around.

And in another article in the Washington Post, former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski notes Five Flaws in the President’s Plan (via Before Decisions):

  • The decision to escalate the level of the U.S. military involvement while imposing “benchmarks” on the “sovereign” Iraqi regime, and to emphasize the external threat posed by Syria and Iran, leaves the administration with two options once it becomes clear — as it almost certainly will — that the benchmarks are not being met. One option is to adopt the policy of “blame and run”: i.e., to withdraw because the Iraqi government failed to deliver. That would not provide a remedy for the dubious “falling dominoes” scenario, which the president so often has outlined as the inevitable, horrific consequence of U.S. withdrawal. The other alternative, perhaps already lurking in the back of Bush’s mind, is to widen the conflict by taking military action against Syria or Iran. It is a safe bet that some of the neocons around the president and outside the White House will be pushing for that. Others, such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman, may also favor it.
  • The speech did not explore even the possibility of developing a framework for an eventual political solution. The search for a political solution would require a serious dialogue about a joint American-Iraqi decision regarding the eventual date of a U.S. withdrawal with all genuine Iraqi political leaders who command respect and wield physical power. The majority of the Iraqi people, opinion polls show, favor such a withdrawal within a relatively short period. A jointly set date would facilitate an effort to engage all of Iraq’s neighbors in a serious discussion about regional security and stability. The U.S. refusal to explore the possibility of talks with Iran and Syria is a policy of self-ostracism that fits well into the administration’s diplomatic style of relying on sloganeering as a substitute for strategizing.
  • The speech reflects a profound misunderstanding of our era. America is acting like a colonial power in Iraq. But the age of colonialism is over. Waging a colonial war in the post-colonial age is self-defeating. That is the fatal flaw of Bush’s policy

Lots of potential for a lot of improvement for the next administration.

Second Life: More numbers…

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

Just how many users are using Second Life? Well, more people are looking into the numbers (users, adoption, money etc.):

Be it as it may, I still plan to find me some property and build a little shack once I find the time. Anyone know of a nice neighborhood?

Blogging and journalism

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Following the recent Microsoft/Edelman PR campaign, I revisited a few sites I had bookmarked over the last year. From what I read in the various ethics codes, it seems pretty clear that accepting gifts of significant value (e.g. items provided for review purposes) is not considered ethical behavior for journalists.

For example, below is a section from the NPR News Code of Ethics and Practices:

VI. Personal Gain, Gifts, Freebies, Loaned Equipment or Merchandise, etc.

1. NPR journalists may not accept compensation, including property or benefits of any kind, from people or institutions they cover. NPR journalists may accept gifts of token value (hats, mugs, t-shirts, etc.). Unsolicited items of significant value will be returned with a letter thanking the sender but stating our policy on gifts. NPR journalists pick up the check when they can (i.e., they are not wined and dined by sources); NPR journalists pay for our own travel in accordance with NPR’s travel policy. There are certain instances – such as conferences and conventions – where food is provided as a convenience for the press as a whole, and in such instances it is acceptable to take advantage of this. In addition, NPR journalists may accept paid travel and meals for speaking engagements and awards ceremonies that are approved under the standards in Section V of this document.

[...]

4. NPR journalists pay their own way in newsgathering, except in unusual circumstances (like going into battle with the military). The Managing Editor or Vice President for News must approve any exceptions. NPR journalists may accept free passes to movie screenings, performances or similar activities that are attended for the purpose of doing reviews or stories for the air.

[...]
6. NPR journalists cannot keep any equipment or items of value provided by a company for test-use for story purposes. Such items must be disclosed to the journalist’s supervisor and are to be disposed of in accordance with the ethical practices stated in this document, which usually means returning such items to the provider.

Very unambiguous language. Note that disclosure is not always enough.

Now, not every blogger is a journalist, nor should they be. However, for bloggers who do consider themselves journalists or who work in what can most accurately be described as a journalistic setting, I believe these time-tested journalism ethics best practices apply and it is important that they be adhered to.

Unless, of course, you think as a blogger you’re above the rules, or the right rules haven’t been written yet, or journalists don’t always stick to the rules either. That’s fine, too. It’s blogging, after all, so anything goes. Just don’t come complaining about how bloggers aren’t taken seriously. You can’t have it both ways.

The ugly face of war

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

CNN: Combat Hospital.

Freudenshow — Trash comedy TV from Germany for people with attention deficit disorder

Friday, November 10th, 2006

So I finally got around to watching the first three episodes of Die Freudenshow. Comes with a flavor of subversiveness that I like. Might be on to something. Check it out!

Factcheck exposes inaccuracies in 2006 campaigns

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Factcheck has been reporting from the campaign trail once again this year. They just published their summary: The Whoppers Of 2006 — We review the worst deceptions from House and Senate campaigns.

Summary

The mid-term elections of 2006 brought an unprecedented barrage of advertising containing much that is false or misleading. We found examples of disregard for facts and honesty – on both sides – that would get a reporter fired in a heartbeat from any decent news organization.

Candidates, parties and independent groups have faked quotes, twisted words, misrepresented votes and positions, and engaged in rank fear-mongering and outright fabrication. Here we review some of the worst deceptions we found.

Analysis

We haven’t addressed every false or misleading statement in 2006 House and Senate campaigns – there were too many of them and our resources are too limited for that. For the full record of our work please refer to the earlier articles on the home page and in our archive.

Disregard for Facts

Much of what we found went well beyond the bounds of honest advocacy, and would warrant dismissal for any reporter who tried to pass it off as an accurate news story. We believe reasonable citizens will also find these distortions to be unacceptable even in political advertising, where a certain amount of puffery is expected and tolerated. It’s one thing to present your own case in the best light and to point out the flaws in your opponent. But a lot of what we encountered was far from the truth. …

Factcheck is a great service and recently won PoliticsOnline’s The Top 10 Who are Changing the World of Internet and Politics award.

Update 2006/11/05: In the title, it must say “inaccuracies” (not “accuracies”).

Hotsoup is live

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Hotsoup has launched (and already they made it on national tv last night). What is Hotsoup?

HOTSOUP.com is the first online community that joins Opinion Drivers from across the spectrum. The community connects well-known influencers from the worlds of politics, business, religion, and popular culture with influencers who drive opinion at the grassroots and community levels. Harnessing the power of social networking technology, HOTSOUP.com levels the playing field by giving anyone and everyone a voice in how America’s institutions can work better.

Opinion Drivers are the individuals who, every day, influence their friends, colleagues, and peers. …

Collectively, grassroots Opinion Drivers are an enormous and growing force because Americans place decreasing trust in old-line opinion leaders such as network anchors and politicians; they’re turning to each other for advice and guidance in these fast-changing times. Where is a good place to eat out? What’s the best car to buy? Who’s the best candidate for school board and for president? More and more, Americans are turning to trusted friends and neighbors to answer such questions and manage the crush of information at their fingertips in the info-tech age. If you’ve ever been asked, “Hey, what do you think about…” then you are probably an Opinion Driver. Welcome to the HOTSOUP.com community.

…CONNECTED BY ONE PLATFORM

Opinion Drivers across the country are losing patience with party lines and PR spin. They recognize the complex challenges America faces and want intelligent discussion and reasoning. They want smart debate, real answers and, most importantly, they want the opportunity to be heard.

Carter, Chip, Joe and Mike, prominent Democratic strategists, and Mark and Matthew, Republican heavyweights, had successful private sector practices that specialized in helping corporate clients find Opinion Drivers. It was frustrating; the rise of the Internet and other societal trends made Opinion Drivers both more important and harder to reach.

At the same time, Internet veterans Allie, Bart and John were consulting on better ways to reach and engage Opinion Drivers online while simultaneously launching a new social networking site called Sisterwoman.com.

And Ron, one of the country’s most respected journalists, was observing his readers’ behavior change and co-authoring a book, Applebee’s America, about this audience and the community-building potential of the Internet.

Despite representing both sides of the political aisle, Internet media and journalism, we all reached the same conclusion: There is no single place for Opinion Drivers to gather online. That was the day we set out to build HOTSOUP.com.

Intelligent discussion. Smart debate. A voice for everyone. Will be interesting to watch if and how the makers of Hotsoup will be able to grow the community culture necessary to achieve these goals.

Welcome, VentureBeat!

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Matt Marshall just launched VentureBeat an hour or so ago:

Welcome to VentureBeat — the successor to SiliconBeat!

VentureBeat’s mission is to provide news and information about private companies and the venture capital that fuels them. People are at the heart of this project. VentureBeat will be a resource for entrepreneurs and other interested professionals facing some the biggest decisions of their careers.

VentureBeat will focus initially on Silicon Valley, and gradually, when possible, expand to cover innovation hubs around the globe.

What’s interesting here is the fact that a project which “began as an experiment” two years ago — a blog covering the startup and venture world of “this fascinating place we call Silicon Valley” — has now turned into a startup of its own.

Good luck, Matt!

By the way, having lived here for over a year now I think I’m slowly starting to feel the itch, too…

There’s a certain Truthiness in Wikiality

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

In case you haven’t seen it, take a look at Colbert Analyzes Wikipedia (YouTube).

Or go to http://www.wikiality.com and find out all there is to know about the concept of Truthiness, The Wørd, and Movies that are Destroying America.

Probably the best TV show by far right now.