Archive for the ‘media criticism’ tag

#  The Afghanistan We Don’t See →

June 18th, 2010 at 20:06 // In Worth Seeing 

This isn’t done often enough. Foreign Policy got a batch photos taken by Kabul teens which shows the day-to-day life of the people. While this may be antithetical to the traditional notion of news photography, regularly undertaking this practice would be an invaluable compliment to that.

(via Reddit)

#  No Good News Today →

June 2nd, 2010 at 17:51 // In Worth Considering 

This is a potent point:

One of the themes in my forthcoming book is that there are huge vested interests trying to prevent good news reaching the public. That is to say, in the ruthless free-market struggle that goes on between pressure groups for media attention and funds, nobody likes to have it said that `their’ problem is not urgent and getting worse.

(via Lone Gunman)

#  An Epic Correction →

July 28th, 2009 at 18:32 // In Worth Seeing 

It’s not the nature of the errors that so amazing, it’s their sheer number. I thought we were supposed to value print for soberness and fact checking the internet doesn’t provide:

An appraisal on Saturday about Walter Cronkite’s career included a number of errors. In some copies, it misstated the date that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and referred incorrectly to Mr. Cronkite’s coverage of D-Day. Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968, not April 30. Mr. Cronkite covered the D-Day landing from a warplane; he did not storm the beaches. In addition, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, not July 26. “The CBS Evening News” overtook “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” on NBC in the ratings during the 1967-68 television season, not after Chet Huntley retired in 1970. A communications satellite used to relay correspondents’ reports from around the world was Telstar, not Telestar. Howard K. Smith was not one of the CBS correspondents Mr. Cronkite would turn to for reports from the field after he became anchor of “The CBS Evening News” in 1962; he left CBS before Mr. Cronkite was the anchor. Because of an editing error, the appraisal also misstated the name of the news agency for which Mr. Cronkite was Moscow bureau chief after World War II. At that time it was United Press, not United Press International.

(via kottke)

#  The Gaza War on Al-Jazeera →

January 18th, 2009 at 13:12 // In Worth Reading 

Eric Calderwood thinks that while the network’s coverage is unquestionably biased, it’s not without merit.

But in a larger sense, Al-Jazeera’s graphic response to CNN-style “bloodless war journalism” is a stinging rebuke to the way we now see and talk about war in the United States. It suggests that bloodless coverage of war is the privilege of a country far from conflict. Al-Jazeera’s brand of news - you could call it “blood journalism” - takes war for what it is: a brutal loss of human life. The images they show put you in visceral contact with the violence of war in a way statistics never could.

#  Reconsidering the Medium →

December 7th, 2008 at 13:41 // In Worth Considering 

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this paragraph from Virginia Heffernan:

Does anyone still believe that the forms of movies, television, magazines and newspapers might exist independently of their rapidly changing modes of distribution? The thought has become unsustainable. Take magazine writing. In school or on the job, magazine writers never learn anything so broad as to “tell great stories” or “make arresting images.” You don’t study the ancient art of storytelling. You learn to produce certain numbers and styles and forms of words and images. You learn to be succinct when a publication loses ad pages. You learn to dilate when an “article” is understood mostly as a delivery vehicle for pictures of a sexy celebrity. The words stack up under certain kinds of headlines that also adhere to strict conventions as to size and tone, and eventually they appear alongside certain kinds of photos and illustrations with certain kinds of captions on pages of certain dimensions that are often shared with advertisements. Just as shooting film for a Hollywood movie is never just filming and acting in a TV ad is never just acting, writing for a magazine is never just writing.

Though the whole column’s probably worth a read for anyone interested in the future of media.

(via Snarkmarket)

#  Slate for Obama →

October 28th, 2008 at 15:22 // In Worth Knowing 

This shouldn’t shock anyone, but Slate’s staff is overwhelmingly pro-Obama. Bob Barr is getting as many votes from them as John McCain. And four times more people can’t vote as are voting for either of those two.

I’d love to see more publications try this out. I’d like to know the score at Time or The Economist.

#  Thinking of Bangladesh →

July 2nd, 2008 at 21:39 // In Worth Considering 

For similar reasons as Equatorial Guinea, The Economist’s Asia.view column asks “why we don’t hear more about Bangladesh?”

According to Odhikar, a Bangladeshi human-rights group, 68 people died in extrajudicial killings (often called “crossfire”) in the first half of this year. Torture is endemic. The government also quietly adopted a new counter-terrorism ordinance last month, without debate. Human Rights Watch, a research and lobbying group, says it violates fundamental freedoms.

#  Making it Better →

June 15th, 2008 at 11:26 // In Worth Considering 

Jack Shafer dares thinking the unthinkable: Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal may actually be getting better.

#  Crichton Was Right About Media Extinction →

May 31st, 2008 at 12:01 // In Worth Considering 

Jack Shafer says that Michael Chrichton’s rather infamous prediction about the demise of mass media wasn’t wrong, just early.

As we pass his prediction’s 15-year anniversary, I’ve got to declare advantage Crichton. Rot afflicts the newspaper industry, which is shedding staff, circulation, and revenues. It’s gotten so bad in newspaperville that some people want Google to buy the Times and run it as a charity! Evening news viewership continues to evaporate, and while the mass media aren’t going extinct tomorrow, Crichton’s original observations about the media future now ring more true than false. Ask any journalist.

He also talks at length with the author about the topic and more.

#  CBS Should Shutter Its News Division →

April 24th, 2008 at 10:55 // In Worth Considering 

For some reason neglecting to mention recent rumors about a CNN-CBS pairing, Troy Patterson says that CBS’s news products are so bad they should just take pity and pull them off the air. His opening barb:

To judge by the ads, the most loyal adherents to CBS’ quasi-journalistic programming are impotent and incontinent. It so happens that they share these afflictions with the network’s actual news division.

#  Decline and Fall of the BBC →

April 21st, 2008 at 16:06 // In Worth Considering 

I’ve always admired the BBC’s news coverage from afar. Stephen Hugh-Jones says it’s suffering from the same peril as nearly every other television news source:

The BBC has an admirable network of admirable overseas correspondents. Its World Service is still the most reliable radio source of world news, its Radio Four a reminder of the days when the Beeb took being serious seriously. But the news judgment of its domestic television bulletins often strikes me as weird: the editor of the Puddlecombe and Much Chattering Gazette, staffed by two journos and a dog, could do better.

#  Against (Some) Hyperlinks →

April 4th, 2008 at 13:44 // In Worth Distraction 

I love when Slate’s media critic Jack Shafer offers a necessary bit of curmudgeonry. 

Why doesn’t every newspaper Web site routinely link directly to the competition’s work? If a competitor’s story is good enough to cite in the copy, it’s good enough to link to. Examples: A recent Washingtonpost.com story cited an Nytimes.com story but linked to a generic page about the Times. The Nytimes.com does no better, citing a news-breaking Washington Post story in a recent article but not linking to it. (I can’t even locate a landing page for theWashington Post on Nytimes.com. Subtle slap or oversight?)

#  Love and Literature →

March 30th, 2008 at 14:01 // In Worth Considering 

I probably wouldn’t be linking to this cute/strange/odd essay from the NY Times Book Review were it not for what Austin Kleon (a recent favorite) had to say about it:

last night we watched MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, and this morning I read this essay. these poor, miserable, over-educated, imbred [sic] bastards. doomed to loneliness. this whole stupid American Hologram has somehow convinced us that we are what we consume — and intellectuals buy into it just as much as anybody else. “You’ve never read Nabokov? Oh, I could never marry you.” Losers. A nation of losers.

#  Crowdsourcing Media Bias →

March 27th, 2008 at 15:23 // In Worth Seeing 

The same people who brought you crowdsourced color names, have crowdsourced the evaluation of media bias. Their results look interesting, even if I’m not sure they’re trustworthy. (It appears they let people know the source of the story, which could very well change their perception of that story’s bias.)

#  David Simon and the LA Times →

March 27th, 2008 at 12:27 // In Worth Reading 

Yesterday, it was revealed that the LA Times’s story about Sean “P. Diddy” Colmes being linked to the 1994 assault of Tupac Shakur was based on documents that were probably forged. Though I edited my original post about it, I didn’t think it merited a new one. Thanks to Vulture, it now does. By combining the story with it’s implications for everyone’s new favorite show, The Wire, they found something rather interesting to say.

Simon’s critics — Vulture included — complained that he had a too-cynical view of modern newspapers, and that a slippery rat like Templeton would have been flushed out. In fact, one critic wrote that “life at The Wire’s Baltimore Sun seems oddly cut-and-dried, which is surprising given the series’ usual fondness for shades of gray. Hard-nosed editors in the trenches: good; upper management with their eyes on the (Pulitzer) prize: bad. Given the standards the show has set, it’s a bit disappointing.” Wait, which paper was that again—oh yes, the L.A. Times.

So while the Times eats crow, Simon should be crowing, right? Well, yes and no. After all, Philips’s shoddy story got busted just days later by online watchdogs — as, we suspect, Scott Templeton’s would have, had he existed in real life. So Simon got the beginning of the fable right, but not the ending. Templeton wouldn’t have bagged a Pulitzer. He’d have been shamed by The Smoking Gun.

#  The Journalistic Life of Fake Trends →

March 27th, 2008 at 9:41 // In Worth Knowing 

For a while, Slate’s media critic Jack Shafer has been saying that “pharm parties” — parties where teens throw a bunch of prescription drugs into a bowl and take them by the handful — are a myth made for newspapers. Now he’s also found their historical predecessor: “fruit salad parties.”

The March 30, 1966, Lowell Sun was the earliest clip I located, and it is a classic of the genre. In a general piece about drug use, the Sun’s reporter confided:

In Medford, several months ago, a group of teen-agers had a “fruit salad party.” Each person brought three pills. The pills were mixed together in a bowl, and each person took three. Most of the takers were hospitalized, and one is still in serious condition, in a coma.

Observe the journalistic rigor practiced by the Sun. No sources. No names. No mention of specific drugs. How do you gauge the truth value of such a paragraph?

#  Covering Tibet in China →

March 15th, 2008 at 13:09 // In Worth Seeing 

James Fallows, who happens to be living in China, has an interesting piece about how the Chinese press has handled the Tibetan violence. This bit was especially useful for me:

In judging popular reaction in China to this episode, bear in that mind few ordinary Chinese people have even been exposed to the idea that Tibet’s place within their country is controversial in any way. In the ordinary course of going to school and reading newspapers or watching TV, they would hear that Tibet, much like the largely Islamic Xinjiang region and other frontier parts of China, is an ancient, inseparable, happily integrated part of the motherland, whose tranquility is threatened from time to time by hooligans or even terrorists. History books, TV series, museum displays, and of course newspaper articles like this one convey the message.

#  How To Be A Columnist →

March 13th, 2008 at 13:24 // In Worth Reading 

Jack Shafer tears into a Wall Street Journal columnist. It’s not that interesting, but I did very much enjoyed the first paragraph:

Desperate newspaper columnists can always grind out a quick piece by purchasing a large burlap bag and stuffing “The Press” and several pounds of broken glass inside it. Drag to a steep, long staircase, give it a shove, and the column almost writes itself.