Media postsFriday December 05, 2014
Mass Resignations at The New Republic: Journalists Attempt to Disrupt 'Disruptive Innovation' Yahoo
I first came across this story last night via Dylan Byer's piece, “Implosion of a Washington Institution,” on the Politico site. It was a trickle then. Aujourd'hui? Le deluge.
Background: In March 2012, Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook (played by Patrick Mapel in the movie), bought The New Republic, a venerable, left-leaning, DC-based, long-form magazine. His plans? From The New York Times back then:
Mr. Hughes said he was motivated by an interest in “the future of high-quality long-form journalism” and by an instinct that such journalism was a natural fit for tablets. He said he would “expand the amount of rigorous reporting and solid analysis” that the magazine produces.
This September he hired Guy Vidra, the general manager of Yahoo News, as his CEO, and Vidra didn't say those things. Even in TNR's press release that day, Vidra talked up the following: “new products,” “new categories,” “new approaches.”
He kept his word. From Byer:
In meetings with staff, he spoke of the magazine as though it were a Silicon Valley startup, sources said. He talked about 'disruption' and said he wanted to 'break shit.' He referred to himself as a 'wartime CEO.' At one point, he proposed giving every employee shares in the company, suggesting that he had plans to make it public.
Sources said that Vidra also showed little regard for [editor Franklin] Foer or his writers. In a meeting held in November, he made it clear to staff that he found the magazine boring and had stopped reading longform articles. Three weeks later, at the magazine’s 100-year anniversary gala — a star-studded, black-tie affair featuring speeches from former President Bill Clinton and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Vidra mispronounced Foer’s name while introducing him to the audience. (He pronounced “Foer” as “Foyer.”)
Yesterday, it was announced that both Foer and longtime literary editor Leon Wieseltier were leaving.
Also this, per Ryan Lizza.
Will be interesting to see where it all goes. I wouldn't mind it going further. I wouldn't mind it disrupting the disruptive innovators in more industries.
- Friday, 11 AM: Update from Andrew Sullivan.
Pointless: Jon Stewart Weighs In on #Pointergate
Finally, Jon Stewart and The Daily Show take on, and get the story behind, the idiocy of #Pointergate:
Here's my take from last week. In the comments field, you'll notice that Tim has anticipated Jon Stewart's reaction ... but with an even better photo.
Known Southside gangbangers Minnesota Nice and Vanilla Nice, flashing signs in 2010.
My Pointergate Scandal
Daily Kos called it “may be the most racist news story of 2014.” Former mayor R.T. Rybak said on Facebook that he had to “reread this article three times before I could be convinced this wasn't a joke.”
What is it? It's called Pointergate or #Pointergate. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was helping volunteers with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, a Get Out The Vote campaign in Minneapolis, and took a photo with a young volunteer. They were arm in arm but pointing fingers at each other. The mayor is white, the young man is black. Then local news reporter Jay Kolls of KSTP-TV filed a report that the Mayor was flashing gang signs with a gang member.
Reporter Jay Kolls said in his story that “law enforcement agencies” told him it was a sign used by a north Minneapolis gang. ... “Is she going to support gangs in the city or cops?” John Delmonico, president of the city’s police union, said in an on-camera interview.
Here's the photo:
Here's another one, taken four years ago, which didn't make the news:
It's sort of a well-known gesture: You the man; no, you the man. It's something people do when posing for the zillionth photo.
It's hardly worth talking about, to be honest. It's a distraction. Even if there's comeuppance for Kroll and Delmonico, they'll find a place. If KSTP fires Kroll he'll get hired by FOX-News. World without end. “Liberal media.”
The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations for Right-Wing Pundits
“The problem with our media ecology is—just as the question from my editor friend suggests—that conservatives are protected from any consequence for their intellectual failings. ...
”Which returns us to the problem I have with my friend’s question to me in the first place: why is it that liberals and moderates and editorial non- and anti-ideologues of (too) good faith insist on making like the Greek philosopher Diogenes, scouring the horizon for the last honest conservative, instead of accepting the fact that there are virtually none to be found? ...
“Some smart speechwriter for George W. Bush once came up with a rather brilliant phrase to describe what conservatives see as the moral failing of affirmative action: that it imposes a 'soft bigotry of low expectations.' By patting under-qualified minority candidates patronizingly on the head and giving them jobs and educations for which they are not prepared, the argument goes, liberals supposedly do the objects of their tender concern more harm than good—and the greater public good a grievous harm as well. Time to stop the soft bigotry of low expectations toward the right. No more affirmative action for conservatives. It does no good for a right-wing literati that would be better served by a swift kick in the ass.”
-- Rick Perlstein, “There Are No More Honest Conservatives, So Stop Looking For One,” in The Nation.
It Depends on What the WSJ's Meaning of the Word 'Was' Is: Revealing propagandist tendencies in the right-wing press
James Fallows posted this on his Atlantic blog the other day. It’s a screenshot from a reader’s iPad newstream that tells the same story two different ways:
Fallows’ post was headlined “Why to Get More Than 1 Newspaper, iPad Edition,” and included the following subhed:
One paper’s headline writers choose the word “dips”; the other's choose “only.” The difference those two words can make.
To me, Fallows focuses on the wrong word. It's less “only” than “was.” Something sinister lies behind that word.
Let’s look at the headlines again. The New York Times:
U.S. Economy Adds 148,000 Jobs, as Unemployment Dips to 7.2%
This is a Sgt. Friday headline: Just the facts, ma’am. Both things are correct.
Now here’s The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. employers added only 148,000 jobs in September; unemployment rate was 7.2%
Until now I didn’t notice the difference between “U.S. Economy” and “U.S. employers” but that’s problematic as well. It’s as if the WSJ is dredging up tired GOP talking points. But onward.
Fallows focuses on WSJ’s use of “only” but that doesn’t bug me too much. It’s a value judgment but ultimately, or at least comparatively, correct. In the eight months prior, the U.S. economy added more than 148,000 jobs five times, and exactly 148,000 jobs one time, so, yes, September wasn’t one of our better months. Last year, eight of the 12 months were better in terms of job growth. So I’ll let them have “only.”
But they fuck up big time with “was.”
First, writers and journalists go out of their way to avoid passive verbs. “Is” and “was” just sit there. That’s what they do. That’s their job.
The WSJ headline writer went out of his way to embrace the passive verb. Why? Because he wanted the unemployment rate to just sit there. Apparently he didn’t want people to know that it moved.
Read it again. It’s so awkward: Jobs added and “... unemployment rate was 7.2%.” Was? You mean in the past? So what is it now? Oh. That’s what it is now? So why didn’t you just say that?
The headline writer has tied himself into knots to avoid any sense of movement, and in so doing has created a sentence fragment that doesn’t inform. He is trying to hide facts, rather than reveal facts, with his words. That’s not the work of a journalist; it’s the work of a propagandist.
Indeed, this little screenshot is indicative of exactly what’s wrong with the mainstream media. The Times strives for objectivity and gives us the facts. WSJ strives for right-wing talking points and hides the facts. Somehow, even in the mainstream press, this combination is known as “the liberal media.”