The Business Of Access Journalism

So the Washington Post has scrapped its full monty pay for play scheme. But it is important to remember that the business of Traditional "journalism" now is in fact favorable coverage in exchange for access - which can be just as pernicious. A couple of days ago, Bob Somerby linked to this June 3 Digby piece on Richard Wolffe, the fellow covering the Obama campaign while at the same time writing a book about it. Digby cited this Wolffe quote:

“The idea that journalists are somehow not engaged in corporate activities is not really in touch with what’s going on. Every conversation with journalists is about business models and advertisers,” he said, recalling that, on the day after the 2008 election, Newsweek sent him to Detroit to deliver a speech to advertisers. “You tell me where the line is between business and journalism,” he said.

More . . .

The business of "journalism" today is gossip and access. The WaPo tried to charge the lobbyists and "the newmakers" for access to WaPo reporting. It made naked what the real business of the Traditional Media now is. The rest of us? We are just "d*cks".

Speaking for me only

< 9th Circuit Judge Gets Public Admonishment for Explicit Postings on Internet | Massive Michael Jackson Tribute Set for Staples Center Tuesday >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Gore Vidal saw this coming so long ago (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by ruffian on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 01:37:02 PM EST
    I think my summer project may be to reread his political series.

    Can't think of one reason to read much else besides that and selected blogs to find out what is going on.

    Is there anyone from this point (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Anne on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:05:14 PM EST
    forward who will read any piece from the Post and not wonder what the quid pro quo was for whatever slant the content has?

    There are a lot of us who have been reading the Post and the NYT for a long time with a level of skepticism that has only increased over time; to so blatantly offer to sell access in this way - even though the word is they have abandoned this little money-making venture - takes them to a level that renders their content essentially worthless.

    The Post's explanation is not consistent with their claim that the newsroom would not be compromised, and this:

    Ceci Connolly, a Post reporter who covers health care, told POLITICO that she had been told there would be a dinner and that she would be invited. However, Connolly said, she "knew nothing about sponsorships and had not seen any flier or invitation."

    is as insulting to the intelligence as Connolly's reporting.

    There will always be that question of whether they found a way to back-door their plan.

    Robert Gibbs is saying he thinks some people from the administration had been invited, but thought the invitation had not been accepted.  Is there any reason to believe that, absent Politico's story, we would ever have known one way or the other?

    I seriously do not know how anyone can believe we have a snowball's chance in hell of getting substantive health reform when this is how the game is being played.

    What has Obama said about the pay to play story? (none / 0) (#24)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:03:39 PM EST
    Anne, I couldn't get your link to work - I'm assuming it was for this Politico story: Washington Post cancels lobbyist event amid uproar. I love these lines from one of the event fliers:
    "Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate... Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization's CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders  ."

    Maybe at the next WH presser, HuffPo's Nico Pitney can elbow Dana Milbank aside and ask Obama the precise dollar value of "interacting with key Obama administration leaders".

    Seriously, I wonder what Politico's real motive is here. Politico claims this story came to their attention via a kindly "health care lobbyist" who had ethical qualms about WaPo's offer of cash for access.

    Prospective scenario: this gets spun so that the health care lobby ends up looking more ethical than the press and Obama and Congress.


    Lambert over at Corrente asks a great (2.00 / 0) (#3)
    by ruffian on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 02:25:51 PM EST
    Question: why is the Obama administration particpating in this scheme? It takes two to tango.

    Glad it is out in the open. All sides deserve what they have coming on this.

    Obama Administration denied (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 02:32:58 PM EST
    agreeing to participate.

    Well if that's the case, (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by dk on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 02:43:48 PM EST
    then this entire issue is academic.  

    Of course, I don't believe the Obama administration's denials.


    Me neither (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 02:45:46 PM EST
    Just reporting what they said.

    lol (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 02:55:20 PM EST
    Not sure what to believe because I do not believe either of them.

    WaPo has signed its partisan rag death sentence with the firing of Froomkin, and pols are pols..


    That's life (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 03:30:10 PM EST
    my friends.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#14)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 03:34:33 PM EST
    Hardly black and white.

    the MJ thread (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 03:49:30 PM EST
    is just above . . .

    heh (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:13:38 PM EST
    Good One! (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:14:03 PM EST
    Was that one of his albums? Or the two poles bounding his  identity? I know almost nothing about him.

    Doesn't Matter If (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:36:55 PM EST
    You're Black Or White - Link. warning - McCauley Culkin stars in the video.

    Wow (none / 0) (#27)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:07:19 PM EST
    Pretty funny metaphor blasting away the big fat white guy. Was that McCauley Culkin?

    I guess MJ's attempt to transcend identity, gender, race, sexuality, age, etc, made him a super trannie. Quite the idealist, imo. Did not know that he was so political.


    IMO (none / 0) (#36)
    by lilburro on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:45:39 PM EST
    most of his videos have very interesting political content, for blockbuster pop videos anyway.  Even when people thought his blackness "in doubt" as a matter of skin color, his videos paid tribute to his race and experience of race.  His music is often idealistic and kind of out there but I think he did have an interesting political consciousness beyond the helping kids stuff.  His early career of course was greatly shaped by discriminatory attitudes.

    My favorite:  Beat It.  And Leave Me Alone was very cool.

    Yeah he kind of was a super tranny.  I don't know if MJ ever said anything particularly self-aware about that though.


    Squeaky I hope you will (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:04:54 PM EST
    take on the task of monitoring the massive MJ tribute Mon.to report any comparisons between the recently deceased king of pop and Wolfgang. Thank you for perfoprming this public service.

    I'll Pass (none / 0) (#28)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:11:55 PM EST
    Because I already got it with the Black and White video, not sure that there is more to get for me, save for the cultural crit aspect.

    I bet that he danced better than Mozart, pretty amazing in that respect. Never heard much about Mozart dancing.


    I would have to actually (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:16:06 PM EST
    Read Alistair McCauley's NYT piece on MJ's dance moves to see. What a sellout.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#32)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:23:55 PM EST
    What do you mean by "sellout"? I an not a fan of most modern dance but anyone that could diss Pina Bausch, RIP, who was one of the greatest influence in the arts for the last 30 years, is a complete moron, imo.

    That moron is Alistair MaCaulay.


    I am a devotee (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:28:49 PM EST
    of contemporary dance and still greatly regret I did not go to LA in 1984 to see Rite of Spring during Olympic Arts Fest. .

    Unbelievable Piece (none / 0) (#35)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:37:43 PM EST
    As is most of her choreography. I am sure that company will continue to perform her repertoire. There will no doubt be a retrospective festival in Wuppertal in the next year.

    Over the years I met her some twenty, or more times, and she was always smoking a cig. Cancer got her..

    She looked great, or the same as always, last winter when I saw her during the BAM run of Bamboo Blues.


    Ha Just reporrting each side (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:39:02 PM EST
    Fair and balanced (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:40:45 PM EST
    Where? (none / 0) (#30)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:17:01 PM EST
    At 25k per (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Lori J on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 02:52:07 PM EST
    I would darn well want some sense of which of the "powerful few" I was going to be saloning with before writing out that check.  But that's just silly old me.

    From the very time (1.00 / 0) (#31)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:23:44 PM EST
    I saw Barack Obama I sensed this was a troubled, clinically aberrant, megalomaniac. Similar to Bernie Madoff, or the Billion Dollar Boy's Club, he used his God-given talents to build the illusion of accomplishment, rather than use them to do the hard, gritty work of actual accomplishment.

    I didn't need his Greek Columns or brazen self-likeness logo to come to this conclusion. Think about this: A public servant, who had accomplished literally nothing for his constituents, felt the need at the ripe old age of 30 something to write, not one, but two autobiographies.

    I really would love to listen to a discussion among psychiatrists regarding the Obama phenomenon.

    Arguably the least prepared and most inexperienced person to hold the office of President is in charge of the most powerful country in the world at one of its most critical junctures in its history.

    Scared? You should be; I am.

    Really? (5.00 / 0) (#34)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:30:43 PM EST
    Any white male pols that fit the description? We already know that some think Palin has narcissistic personality disorder. Is that disease only notable for women and black pols?

    Just askin...


    Sorry (none / 0) (#37)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:48:10 PM EST
    Can't laugh, and type at the same time.

    Yes, many "....white male pols ....fit the description." But since we only have one President at a time and at this time its Barack Obama, and (gulp) he's almost black, and he, in my opinion, has honed his skill to a degree that sets him apart from the rest, he was the topic of my comment.

    Your agility, and ability, to skitter between Michael Jackson's dancing, Mozart, and your life's work, skewering me, is truly breathtaking!

    Welcome back, by the way. I've missed you; where have you been?


    Skittering (none / 0) (#40)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:01:01 PM EST
    In the real world, so to speak. Making art and music, and digging myself out of financial ruin. Nothing new.. the current financial downturn has just caught up with me, as I have been about to lose everything. I think I am a financial bulimic or something.

    Does misery really (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:03:06 PM EST
    Love company?

    Cause if it does, we're in love.

    Two years ago I had an income several multiples of 6 figures, 800 credit score, and all the adjunct appurtenances. Two months ago my three homes were in foreclosure. Why three homes? My son lives in one, my wife in another, and I in the third. Why do we live separately? Because we like it that way.

    Anyway, thanks in great part to you, my ability to instantly convert my tongue into a lethal epee has saved two of my homes; the third, I expect to follow suit.

    So if any of your difficulties remain unresolved, I would consider it an honor for you to call upon me for whatever assistance I might provide. Besides being incredibly handsome, and universally irresistible to men, women, and children of all ages (not to mention most animals) I'm also a certified gutter-slut as it pertains to outfoxing the assorted financial drecks you've probably had the misfortune of facing.

    Take it on faith, with  the ShooterMan in your corner, the rest is nuthin but net.

    Good luck.


    Honestly (none / 0) (#2)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 02:23:53 PM EST
    You can't blame the media. If they reported real news, no one would read, or watch it.

    30 years of graduating functional illiterates has had its desired effect; mindless zombies, programmed to consume crap.

    The Gong Show was a joke several years ago; today, Fox News is #1.

    A media audience is not the same thing as (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by esmense on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 03:07:31 PM EST
    the citizenry. "The media" isn't in the business of informing -- it is in the business of attracting a particular audience for a particular group of advertisers. Few WAPO advertisers are likely to be interested in readers who have a genuine interest in seeing accurate reporting on labor issues, for instance.

    The sad and troubling thing isn't that established media like the Post is trying to appeal to the "lowest common denominator" -- the supposedly poorly educated lumpen prolitariate. NO, the audience they are appealing to is actually the nation's elite -- the upscale, affluent, best educated "meritocratic" members of society that advertisers are most interested in reaching.

    Craftsman Tools and Cheer Laundry Soap don't advertise on "Meet the Press" for instance -- the nation's most prominent financial services providers and business to business advertisers do. They are not trying to inform Joe Blow -- they are aiming to stroke the prejudices and confirm the stupidities of "influencers" -- that is, members of the ruling class.

    As for the Post's retreat from its "salons." What they found most objectionable was the brochure's "wording" -- they aren't backing off because the concept is ethically troubling, they are backing off because the copywriter made what they were doing too obvious.


    My point is, yes, you can blame the media (none / 0) (#10)
    by esmense on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 03:11:41 PM EST
    Thank you..... (none / 0) (#23)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:57:19 PM EST
    For your cogent comments.

    Short, little posts on blogs such as this one aren't exactly doctorial thesis. I know I painted with a broad brush. I guess my point was that somewhere along the line a fissure occurred; whereas news, which had been, to one extent or another, considered a Constitutional imperative, was accorded a certain respect. Even our Robber Barons and their ilk separated "news" from their other money making enterprises. Again, relatively speaking, even our monopolists felt some kind of calling in protecting the 1'st. Amendment.

    But, somewhere early in Ronnie, "The Great Communicator's," reign, the party of moral values demolished all vestiges of morality, and through deregulation and the rendering of all antitrust laws moot, the pigs were not only let loose, they were actively encouraged to loot and plunder. ("Greed is Good") Newly hired, pimply faced, Wharton "B" school grads took one look at the "special place" news held in the media and said "Poo to You." Every segment of an enterprise had to be, or become, a profit center, including news. How better to jack up short term profits, and its diseased after-birth, bonuses?

    As Edward R. Murrow might have said, "America, take a look at Sodom and Gomorrah....You are there."


    In the early 80s my future husband, at the time (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by esmense on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:48:30 PM EST
    a commercial illustrator, in response to some particularly over-wrought and silly "report" on the news program we were watching, turned to me (a junior copywriter at a national ad agency) and said, teasingly, "A copywriter wrote that."

    I started to earnestly protest this slur aimed at the noble "Fourth Estate"  -- but then it hit me. He was absolutely right. The distinction between news and copy was becoming increasingly difficult to discern.


    Bingo! lol (none / 0) (#39)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:53:41 PM EST

    At some point, "news" became about (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Anne on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 06:52:33 PM EST
    what this person said (the sun rises in the west) and what some other person said in response (um, no, the sun rises in the east), with no effort or attempt on the part of the media to determine what the actual facts were, so that we could know which things were true and which were not (we did our own investigation, and the sun does, indeed, rise in the east).

    I keep waiting for it to infect sports coverage, such that in spite of actual scores that show who won a particular sporting event, it will only be reported as two teams having met, and the total number of points being scored ("the Yankees and the Red Sox played a baseball game today; the score was 12").

    And while they are busy not "taking sides," they still manage to find lots of time to provide a bias one way or the other, and remind us what and how we should think about the word salad they dish out daily.

    It's pretty close to being utterly useless to anyone looking for information.


    More typical (none / 0) (#12)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 03:20:15 PM EST
    behavior from Versailles. I'm still wondering if the peons will ever get mad enough to do anything about this stuff. Right now I seriously doubt it.

    Repeatinmg myself but-- (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 04:45:01 PM EST
    Per NYT Obama asked Wolf, who covered Obama campaipgn, to write a Making of the President type book re this campaign. And Wolf did so.  

    Pay to play. Not unlike the banks (none / 0) (#25)
    by oldpro on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:03:43 PM EST
    creative fun with mortgages, this scheme will simply take another form, be bundled with some other activity, repackaged, repriced and rescheduled.

    Count on it.