Another Reason to Give Up On the Media

Times Ombudsman Clark Hoyt:

Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, agreed with me that the paper was “slow off the mark,” and blamed “insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio.” She and Bill Keller, the executive editor, said last week that they would now assign an editor to monitor opinion media and brief them frequently on bubbling controversies. Keller declined to identify the editor, saying he wanted to spare that person “a bombardment of e-mails and excoriation in the blogosphere.”

Right, the problem with the ACORN story was it got too little attention. So now the New York Times will expressly take its cues from Fox News and the Drudge Report. The Media is dead. There really is no reason to pay attention to them anymore. (NOTE: I only found about this because some blogs wrote about it.)

Speaking for me only

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    Typical (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by TheRealFrank on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:03:56 AM EST
    Reasons for reporting on a story are apparently not "do the facts warrant it", but "are others reporting on it".

    Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by The Maven on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:17:23 AM EST
    It's not intrinsically a bad thing for a major traditional news outlet to have an editor monitoring "opinion media" if that also meant that sites on the left also received the ability to generate coverage of ignored stories as well, or if false memes promulgated by the right were promptly investigated and prominently debunked.

    But somehow I very much doubt that this would be the case, or even is what the Times is contemplating here, which is what makes this so pernicious.  As strongly implied in Hoyt's piece, the paper is terrified of the perception among self-proclaimed conservatives that the Times has a liberal bias and thus needs to bend over backwards to address those accusations:

    Tom Rosenstiel, the director of the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, said he has studied journalists for years, and though they are more liberal than the general population, he believes they are motivated by the desire to get good stories, not to help one particular side. . . .  But Rosenstiel said The Times has a particular problem with conservatives . . .  "If you know you are a target, it requires extra vigilance," Rosenstiel said. "Even the suspicion of a bias is a problem all by itself."

    I would ask Mr. Rosenstiel how, exactly, excellence in journalism is supposed to occur without ruffling some feathers and creating suspicions, and sadly the Times is caving in, rather than wearing the protests against them as a badge of honor.  And as a result, the right wing carves another notch in its belt, though as they're never fully satisfied, it surely won't be the last, by any means.

    On the other hand, I for one (none / 0) (#25)
    by Cream City on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:06:09 PM EST
    long have been critical of mainstream media for not monitoring other media enough -- the black press, the feminist press, etc. -- to hear other voices.

    I'm actually astonished at the lack of monitoring of other mainstream media.  That's what mainstream do: They listen to each other.  And too much so.


    Have you ever studied the phenomena of (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:23:19 PM EST
    one media outlet reporting a story, and the rapidity with which others report the same story as if it had nevah been reported before?

    I have -- and I also have (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Cream City on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:39:16 PM EST
    read dozens of such studies.  It's called the "bandwagon" or "boys on the bus" (the title of one of the best books on it) effect.

    But I've also done a master's thesis, a dissertation, and a book -- as have many others --  how often mainstream media ignore important stories that arise in specialized media.  Btw, bloggers only notice now because it's happening to them, too.  I haven't seen a blogger connect it to a larger context, which interestingly tells me how little they have studied media before launching into it with something "new and improved."  Yeh. :-)


    Then there was Jeff Toobin acknowledging (none / 0) (#38)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:53:27 PM EST
    he was checking the blogs on his laptop whilst he was being a talking head analyst during the primaries.

    Check out a good discussion of this phenomenon (none / 0) (#40)
    by DFLer on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:15:17 PM EST
    and other aspects of media without journalism in this article, The Story Behind the Story, by Mark Bowden, 25 year reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    Atlantic Monthly


    No, the real question is (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by kmblue on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:42:23 AM EST
    why Congress feverishly voted to de-fund ACORN
    (which has not been convicted of any crime) and continue to fund defense contractors who have!

    The other "real question" (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by jondee on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:58:46 AM EST
    is why theres been such pathetically paltry investigative coverage of all the blood money doled out to, and outright theft by, overcharging contractors who've turned the Iraq - Afghanistan incursions into a veritable feeding frenzy.

    ACORN, who none of the wingnuts ever even heard of until it became a teabag-ya talking point this past year, is small potatoes when set beside the Blackwaters of the world.


    The real problem is the lack of (none / 0) (#41)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 06:08:09 PM EST
    investigations of the corrupt members of congress, starting with Rangel, then Dodd.  Sounds like the msm is letting a lot by now-a-days.  Too much fawning over the president.

    The Dodd case (none / 0) (#42)
    by Steve M on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 06:28:30 PM EST
    was investigated extensively and found meritless.  Not sure why an investigation was even necessary when some folks seemed to know he was guilty of wrongdoing from the first moment the allegations were reported, but hey.

    LOL (none / 0) (#43)
    by Wile ECoyote on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 05:47:59 AM EST
    got a link?  Define extensively.

    One needn't search ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:57:20 AM EST
    far for the answer to that question.

    Ugh. Looks like Rosenstiel and (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by oldpro on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:53:05 AM EST
    the Pew Project have their work cut out for them.  Excellence in journalism...good luck with that.  Like panning for gold these days, with gold being the better bet.

    Have you seen (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Steve M on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:04:47 AM EST
    the latest re: Anne Applebaum of the WaPo?  She wrote a scathing "Free Roman Polanski" op-ed (basically, taking the same line as Jeralyn has on this site).  Nothing wrong with that, except it just so happens that the Polish Government is lobbying hard on Polanski's behalf... and Applebaum is married to the Polish Foreign Minister.  A pretty bad conflict of interest to leave undisclosed.

    Except, it's only unknown (none / 0) (#16)
    by oldpro on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:11:18 AM EST
    outside the Village boundaries.  Inside, she'll get points and more cocktail invitations.

    So, that's getting to be (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Anne on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:59:27 AM EST
     a pretty long list, isn't it?  

    And considering how non-responsive they have been to what has to be a veritable deluge of criticism from readers/viewers who want the media to question and investigate and inform, I don't see much changing anytime soon.

    In fact, what distresses me is that this is the direction in which things have been moving with our legislators: we write, we call, we fax, we e-mail, we donate money, and if we get anything at all, it measures very poorly against the effort we undertook.

    Hence, I believe, the rising level of frustration and anger that comes from feeling powerless to be heard on by the media on one end and the Congress on the other, which leads to the correspondingly demoralizing realization that putting heart and soul and cash into electing a bunch of "new" people probably won't make any difference since that's what we thought we were doing pre-2006 and again in 2008 and here we are.  

    Where do we go now?  Who will listen to us?  

    The prospects are bleak.

    "If you can keep your head, (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by NYShooter on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:57:52 PM EST
    When all about you......"

    Nothing gets me crazier than the rancid, convoluted, distortion of the concept, "two sides to every story." While technically true, no where does it say that each side must have equally valid points, or must be given equal consideration.
    Dateline; Germany 1938:...  "Last night two crimes were committed: thousands of Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues were bombed and set ablaze by the Gestapo, SS, SA, and Hitler Youth. On the other hand, thousands of Jewish shopkeepers were found guilty of not cleaning up the litter in front of their shops in a expeditious manner, as required by law."

    "Two crimes, two points of view; we report, you decide." Which crime do you think was greater?

    Stay tuned, "Poll results at the end of the broadcast."
    The Times should nail up Harry Truman's famous saying on every wall in their building: "I didn't say the Republicans should go to He_ , I just tell the truth and they think they're in He _."

    Acorn gets a fair amount of government money (2.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:22:40 AM EST

    Acorn gets a fair amount of government money.

    Acorn has a long asociation with Obama.

    The real question is why all the high priced investigative journalists in the MSM could not be bothered to look into that outfit.

    Study on Acorn (none / 0) (#5)
    by Stellaaa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:40:59 AM EST
    Here is a great study on the Acorn story by two professors from Occidental college, this study further digs an MSM grave.  

    The study is correct (none / 0) (#23)
    by Cream City on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:04:01 PM EST
    that the accounts appear to be overblown.  It's a well-done study of agenda-setting, and I've bookmarked to pass it on to those who teach about that; thanks.

    But unfortunately, for some of us, it's also correct that ACORN was behind real problems in our locales.  I was an eyewitness to some of it, so the organization here disgusted me long before the recent revelations elsewhere.  It is a shame, because it appears to have done good work elsewhere before it looks like its growth got out of control in areas like mine.


    Cream I agree (none / 0) (#27)
    by Stellaaa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:18:21 PM EST
    Acorn has had some leadership issues in the last few years.  Also, I feel they did not respond to these attacks effectively.  

    Unlike Blackwater (none / 0) (#28)
    by jondee on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:22:18 PM EST
    they dont have that big a budget for putting a P.R firms and lawyers on the case 24-7.

    Common Sense (none / 0) (#31)
    by coast on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:31:54 PM EST
    You don't need a pricey PR firm or lawyer to tell you that when your organization doesn't do something well you may want to stop doing it.  The top brass at ACORN should have said early on they were going to just stop doing voter regestration in light of all the bad publicity and obvious lack of controls.  They do plenty of other things well, why do they insist on having their hand in this particular jar.  Were there not enough get out the vote organizations in the last election?

    last election? (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by CST on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:04:48 PM EST
    there might have been enough other orgs.  But Acorn has been around a lot longer than that, when there weren't too many people trying to register those voters.

    On the voter registration (none / 0) (#32)
    by Stellaaa on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:43:45 PM EST
    The "irregularities" were self reported, if you read the study and perfectly within what happens.  

    No, not all, by any means (none / 0) (#36)
    by Cream City on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 01:41:51 PM EST
    were self-reported.  More were uncovered that ACORN had not reported -- again, clearly because its yen for growth let it get out of control.  The hiring was not vetted well, so it was wide-open for corruption.

    I would argue... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:54:56 AM EST
    there aren't many investigative journalists left in the game, and the ones that are have bigger fish to fry than a community organization whose low-level employees had the gaul to try and help people who they believed to be members of their community.  At least I see bigger fish to fry, when it comes to government money going down the tubes ACORN don't even rate.  

    Aside from the troubling blase attitude some employees seemingly have about child exploitation, I don't even think they did anything wrong...I mean seriously, in a shady market economy sometimes ya gotta get shady to get a mortgage on the fringe, whats the big deal?  And community organizations are supposed to about helping those on the fringe in a shady market economy, are they not?



    Well, to The Bell Curve crowd (none / 0) (#17)
    by jondee on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:13:55 AM EST
    "help the poor" is always code for helping the n.....s, which is an issue sure to get that resentful, downsized, outsourced base riled up.

    And helping... (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:32:19 AM EST
    sex workers doesn't go over big with the warped morality majority contingent...ACORN can't win.

    Heh (none / 0) (#13)
    by Steve M on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:58:36 AM EST
    that term "association" applies to such a broad swath of relationships, doesn't it?  So convenient.

    The answer to your question is that there are thousands of people and organizations with which Obama has an "association" in the same sense which he has an "association" with ACORN.


    Jack Abramoff (none / 0) (#20)
    by jondee on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:48:09 AM EST
    going up the back stairs of the Whitehouse.

    Speaking of associations.


    Huh? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:05:46 PM EST

    The MSM press was on that like white on rice, iirc.

    On him and his partners (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by jondee on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:12:33 PM EST
    while trivializing his long standing buddy-buddy relationships with Rove, Ralph Reed, Delay et al as if they never benefited from, or had the foggiest what Abramoff was up to.

    Our overwhelmingly useless media (none / 0) (#2)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:15:03 AM EST
    is really at the heart of so many of our nation's ills.

    "Drudge rules our world" (none / 0) (#3)
    by kmblue on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:20:25 AM EST
    said the founders of Politico.

    If more bloggers ... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:42:17 AM EST
    would do real reporting we could forget them forever.

    But I'm still stuck with some mainstream media sources for reporting. Because as bad as they are the truth can often be deduced from their reporting.

    And there still are a few decent investigative reporters here and there. Some at Knight-Ridder, the BBC, etc..  

    All one need do is look at the strings (none / 0) (#8)
    by SeeEmDee on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 10:52:50 AM EST
    Of corp-rat media control, that is. So much centralization now in the hands of so few outlets (whose owners all belong to the same very exclusive club) that the content is no more enlightening than a Punch-and-Judy show.

    Expect real information from those with a stake in maintaining your ignorance? Not likely...

    Money Talks (none / 0) (#21)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:58:57 AM EST
    Right wing radio consistantly leads in ratings across the country. Fox News came along and knocked off CNN in the ratings war by catering to the same crowd. The newspaper are suffering heavy losses in readership. So it isn't surprising that, from a business stand point, they would follow the leaders.

    It has nothing to do with journalistic integrity or being "fair and balanced. It has everything to do with dollars and sense.

    What would bloggers blog about (none / 0) (#30)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 12:25:42 PM EST
    absent newspaper reporting and TV?  

    Oh come on Big Tent! (none / 0) (#37)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 02:21:43 PM EST
    Now you want the MSM to put on (or keep on) "Blinders" so as not to notice what other people including TalkLeft are saying and doing?

    I think you need to rethink that.

    Did you know (none / 0) (#39)
    by joze46 on Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 04:46:34 PM EST
    Why hate radio is so hatful

    Wind in Chicago a few days ago, The Michael Savage Show offered in a commercial done personally by Savage; offer hand guns for sale.

    I have never, never, in thirty years of listening to talk radio ever heard of such thing. More over special feature of the hand gun was laser aiming or called laser sighting. Incredible just incredible.  

    Hume talked two hundred (none / 0) (#44)
    by jondee on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 03:42:33 PM EST
    years ago about how power serves its ends by "controlling opinion..through the churches and the broadsheets (newspapers)"

    Now we have an interlocking network of foundations, think tanks, publishing houses and media contacts who can, apparently, make us forget that hundreds of billions were "lost" (somehow misplaced?) in Iraq while getting us to focus our attention on a relative shoestring operation like ACORN. Oh, and Glenn Beck says that people who want to keep developers out of national parks are "against freedom!" Thats the kind of profundity that lands a fella on the cover of TIME these days; cuz it's important for TIME to keep up with Fox and talk radio also these days.