Monday, January 19, 2004

Journalism dim sum

Recycling accumulated newspaper and blog quotes.

Always read PressThink.

Also, for the next 11 months, the Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk, which is covering the coverage of the presidential campaign - as in "Campaign Desk is glad the AP finally got the facts correct -- but a little irked that some newspapers, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, fixed the error without acknowledging they had made the mistake in the first place." (sorry, not the greatest of sound bites, but, as the others would have required the Heimlich maneuver...)

via Butterflies and Wheels, Jonathan Chait on why U.S. political journalism fails:
For all the talk about the importance of objectivity, reporters are surprisingly willing to express their opinions openly when it comes to matters of pure politics.
Yet, when it comes to real matters of fact--that is, things that involve figures, dates, actual events--reporters frequently take the opposite approach. They are evenhanded to a fault, presenting every side of an argument as equally valid, even if one side uses demonstrably false information and the other doesn't.
This bizarre approach to policy reporting effectively rewards dishonesty. What's the point of a politician telling the truth if even the elite press will simply throw up their hands and fail to distinguish between truth and falsity?
In comments here, "It's an ongoing trend that's becoming more and more apparent: Commentators confuse 'editorial opinion' with 'freedom to cite unsubstantiated evidence as truth.' Hey, it's my opinion, so I can quote whatever sources I want, right?"

A tip o' the hat to Rhetorica, recently, calling a couple of political writers on sleazy tactics - "the ellipsis indicates ... the omission of words that were used in the original source. The point of this punctuation is to help shorten the amount of original material used without changing the meaning as intended by the original communication.
...While they didn't change the words, they changed the signs in order to divert your journey toward the truth. They did this on purpose. And that makes them liars."

Thought Signals:
The real problem with the Times' policy on stringers is that it's counter to what a newspaper is supposed to be all about: the truth. When the Times puts a national correspondent's byline on a story that includes string from others - whether staffers or freelancers - it's telling its readers that that story was reported only by that reporter. It's telling its readers a lie.

Paul Krugman via Disinfotainment:
Don't talk about clothes. Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean was a momentous event: the man who won the popular vote in 2000 threw his support to a candidate who accuses the president of wrongfully taking the nation to war. So what did some prominent commentators write about? Why, the fact that both men wore blue suits.

This was not, alas, unusual. I don't know why some journalists seem so concerned about politicians' clothes as opposed to, say, their policy proposals. But unless you're a fashion reporter, obsessing about clothes is an insult to your readers' intelligence.

From Crooked Timber - "it almost doesn't matter what that candidate actually says. What really matters is framing."

In the press van down by the Warwick, a report on the reporters -
What was most interesting was hearing them interact with each other. I always had this silly stereotype of journalists trying to scoop each other and keeping their information to themselves, but these guys were the definition of pack journalism. What was scary was that a lot of them didn't really seem to know what they were talking about regarding some of Dean's policy stances, things he said at the speech, etc. I got the distinct impression that they were interviewing each other for information (instead of, say, the official campaign spokesman that was in the front seat). Honest to Pete, I heard one reporter ask another "How do you think Dean is doing," and the other went on to answer how he felt Dean probably wrapped up the nomination when he decided against campaign financing, but the test will be if his appeal extends beyond the base of radical liberal supporters..." The exchange was followed by the sound of fingers typing on keyboard...

God but American journalism sucks when it's ordinary:
...there's a whiff of cynicism: [Candidate] is honing a message, not speaking from his heart. The media is fully complicit in the transformation of politics into marketing; that's the filter the media themselves use.
The author now tells us that "[Candidate]'s message is tactically sharp" (the author's cynicism again being imputed to the candidate). But then she moves off that tactically sharp message and says that it "dovetails" with the critique against special interests that "virtually all" the [party's] candidates have proffered.
...this article... strikes me as typical of so much of the media's sloppy, lazy and marketing-centric way of working.

In Altercation - "...the old journalistic cliché that the only people who object to a genuinely objectionable action are people with a vested interest..."

more tomorrow.

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