Tag: Journalism

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Is There a Mole at the Washington Post?

 

“Man is not a rational animal. He is a rationalizing animal.” – Robert Heinlein

shutterstock_132280742What to make of the resolutely pro-choice Washington Post’s lengthy Style section travelogue following a woman who drove 407 miles to obtain a second trimester abortion? Is this part of the campaign to destigmatize abortion? If so, they’ve chosen a very odd way to do it. Or perhaps Monica Hesse, the Post writer, is a pro-life mole?

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The First Amendment for Dummies

 

Most of us have some ritual to help bring us to full alertness in the morning. Since it is not socially acceptable to run an IV drip of caffeine directly into your blood stream, most people settle on coffee as their delivery method. I prefer a shot of adrenaline in the morning courtesy of the rage induced by reading the left-wing commentariat.

Take this morning as an example. The left has never been particularly fond of the Bill of Rights, but usually avoids blatant calls to abridge First Amendment protections on speech. Not today. The LA Times, for example, is wondering where free speech ends and hate speech begins. For the Time’s edification, I have included a handy Venn diagram. The yellow circle represents hate speech, and the blue circle represents the applicability of free speech protections.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. National Guard Withdraws… From Kent State

 

I was 10 years old in 1970. I was vaguely aware of the unrest that had gripped the nation for most of the previous decade. I was baffled by black power salutes at the Olympics, riots at the conventions, and the Vietnam war. I was not all that interested in what was going on in Kent State in May of that year, though it was a mere 30 miles away.

In time, though, I certainly got my fill. For decades afterwards, “anniversary journalism” filled the airwaves and print, both nationally and in northeast Ohio. (I mean, really now, why go looking for news when you can repeat the same stuff based on a quick glance at the calendar?)

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Member Post

 

We news consumers sometimes hear reference to “gate keepers” in the media industry. The implication is that we tend to learn only about what news major media managers want us to hear. Or perhaps those managers only tell us only what they believe they can profit from financially. To what extent is this notion of […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Andy Ferguson Narrows the Field

 

In all the hoo-hah about them over the last 10 or so days, one of the things I found most annoying was that Brian Williams and Jon Stewart kept being described as journalists. Performers, yes, but journalists? Either of them? Not even close.

That was my reaction, anyway, but then I got to wondering: Does journalism, real journalism, even exist anymore? Original research and reporting, good, accessible writing, all presented with freshness and energy and intelligence? Is it still around? Or has journalism become so debased that we might as well concede the collapse of another corner of what used to be called Western Civilization and go ahead and grant that, by current standards, Williams and Stewart really sort of were journalists?

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How the News Gets Totally Distorted–Without any Conspiracy or Journalistic Malfeasance

 

As you can imagine, my Twitter feed is selected — like most peoples’ — to keep up with news that matters to me. Since I’ve moved a lot, I see news from many countries, and also see how people react to that news in many places. So this item caught my eye. Just a bit of context, first: Agence France-Presse is an international news agency headquartered in Paris. They claim — I have not verified this — to be the oldest news agency in the world; they also claim to be one of the largest, which I reckon is true.

Two days ago, they did what they usually do. They, or one of their photographers, took a photo. They also did what they also usually do: They captioned it correctly. Here’s the photo:

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Newsweek Wants To Tell You About Those Rotten Evangelicals

 

explorerIt’s Christmastide, so it’s time once again for Newsweek to flex its theological muscles and slam Christians for their intolerable reading of the Bible. It’s a cheap trick. It’s easy to throw bombs at Christians. They’ll refute your claims, but they are not going to strap on a vest of explosives.
I’ve read the article, “The Bible: So Misunderstood it’s a Sin,” and — as a favor to you, and to help you preserve time to prepare your New Year’s Eve — I’m offering up time that would otherwise have been completely wasted (as opposed to mostly wasted) to fill you in on what you already know.

In 2013, Newsweek’s balance sheet showed the magazine in fiscal bankruptcy, so it’s little surprise that the magazine now demonstrates its moral bankruptcy by publishing an article bashing Evangelical Christians for their alleged Biblical ignorance and — naturally — for their refusal to stand with the current zeitgeist. No sensible person will pay attention to, or pay for, the magazine. However, plenty of senseless readers will glom onto the end-of-the-year edition, eager to read something that bucks up what they are sure they already know. Newsweek needs those readers and will fill them full of what they need just to stay afloat.

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Member Post

 

Courtesy of Ricochet’s smoking monkey, proof that TV reporters sometimes don’t even bother to read the stories they report before going on the air. On a related note, I recently heard a Baby Boomer complain that his local TV news repeatedly “reported” on NASA’s launch of Orion without offering even a basic description of Orion’s mission. It […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. You Always Hurt the One You Love

 

In my somewhat brief time upon this Earth, I have never seen a more obsequious D.C. press corps than the one covering President Barack Obama. There was bias during the early Clinton era, but reporters were still quick to joke about his love of fast food and faster women. They were said to fawn over JFK, but that was before my time and we were in a seemingly life-or-death struggle with the Red Menace.

But today’s press goes beyond simple bias or affection. “Obsequious” might not be the right word. I could have used “brown-nosing,” “unctuous” or “deferential.” Maybe “throne-sniffing.” Or “sycophantic.” “Obeisant,” “parasitical,” “compliant,” “worshipful,” “ingratiating,” “servile,” “prostrate,” or “toadying?” Look, the precise word isn’t the point. Let’s just say if any president should be pleased with the fourth estate, it’s Mr. Barack H. Obama of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Mandatory Body Cameras for Journalists

 
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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. 15 Fresh Holiday Story Ideas for TV News

 

As we enter the holiday season, news organizations deal with a distracted audience, staff vacations and expectations of a slow news cycle. But the show must go on!

Eager to assist my broadcast brethren, I have compiled a list of innovative story ideas to help local and cable news networks get through the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s gauntlet.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Simon Jenkins, You Win

 

640px-Simon_Jenkins_at_Policy_Fight_ClubThe only explanation for this column I can fathom is this one: Simon Jenkins placed a bet, probably a large one, that there is simply nothing — literally nothing — he can write so insane that The Guardian won’t publish it.

Mr. Jenkins, chapeau.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. A Modest Appreciation of Vox.com

 

Do be sure to check out this brilliant, marvelous, incandescently stupendous piece by our very own Messiah of the Moment, Max “I used to be Otto von Bismarck in a previous life” Fisher, in which Fisher explains the Obama Administration’s attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from gobbling up any of the Baltic states. Especially wonderful and heartwarming is Fisher’s tendency to breathlessly explain the principles of deterrence to his audience as though (a) he just learned about those principles and (b) his audience consists exclusively of two-year olds. Consider the following excerpt:

President Obama gave a speech on Wednesday, in a city most Americans have never heard of, committing the United States to possible war against Russia. He said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a Western military alliance better known as NATO, would fight to defend eastern European members like Estonia against any foreign aggression. In other words, if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades Estonia or Latvia as he invaded Ukraine, then Putin would trigger war with the US and most of Europe.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Forgive me for not writing this post two years ago, but Comcast only recently made House of Cards available on demand. A good friend of mine who writes about pop culture for a living urged me to watch House of Cards. He’s a liberal who likes to rib me, but he assured me that the […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. What Are the Worst Journalism Cliches?

 

shutterstock_158484926Earlier this week at the Washington Post, Carlos Lozada compiled a list of the 150 worst journalistic cliches. As a writer who’s not immune to falling prey to a few of these tics, I winced a few times. As an editor who stalks and kills many of these formulations in the wild, however, I was more often drunk with delight. Here are a few examples of instances where I think the Post’s contempt is deserved:

  • “Needless to Say”— This is a phrase that announces its own irrelevance. Taken literally, the words are committing suicide. I look forward to the day when word processors are programmed to automatically delete it 
  • “Broken System” — Worth banning if only to shut Norm Ornstein up for awhile. Seriously, can we get a blanket prohibition on thumb-sucking opinion pieces that elide the distinction between “Washington doesn’t work” and “Washington doesn’t work the way I want it to”?
  • Much Ballyhooed” — I’m more forgiving that most of writing-specific diction. I’d never write a column the same way I’d write a speech. Different styles are appropriate for different media. There’s only so much elasticity permitted, however. “Ballyhoo” takes it too far. Never employ vocabulary that could plausibly have been originated by Dr. Seuss.
  • “Twitterati’ — Italian for “writers who are falling behind on their deadlines.”
  • “The Narrative” (unless referring to a style of writing) — First, it’s just an incredibly sterile phrase. More importantly, though, it’s gateway to a sort of meta-commentary. I never trusts journalists who talk about “the narrative” as if it’s set in stone. They have the power to change it. Give me the facts and I’ll make sense of them for myself.

As with all such exercises, a lot of these judgments are subjective. The Post flags “inflection point,” for example, which I regard as a phrase with no ready substitute, even if it’s a bit overused.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. What the Piketty Errors Mean

 

PikettyRemember the Reinhart/Rogoff spreadsheet error? In the event that you do not, here is a summary. Those who follow debates between economists will recall that the spreadsheet error led to all kinds of excoriations of Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff on the part of liberal economists, who claimed that they were responsible for austerity policies that killed off economic growth. Even Stephen Colbert got in on the act. Their spreadsheet error was considered to be the worst tragedy that befell the planet since that one time when Oedipus and Jocasta had a super-awesome first date.

Of course, the excoriations were vastly overstated, but that didn’t stop intellectual opponents of Reinhart and Rogoff from engaging in hyperbole on a grand scale. Now that Thomas Piketty has been caught making his own significant errors, comparisons have naturally been made between Piketty on the one hand, and Reinhart and Rogoff on the other.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Facts Are Stubborn Things . . . As Thomas Piketty Is Beginning to Find Out

 

I have bought Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and while I have posted many an item that takes issue with the books claims and conclusions concerning wealth inequality, I do plan on reading Piketty; his book has made quite the intellectual and cultural impact, and although I know what his basic arguments are, I want to be sure that I read the whole of the book to be fully aware of his claims.

But even before reading the book, one can conclude certain things about Piketty, as my previous blog posts indicate. And today, we learn that we may well be able to conclude one more thing still about Piketty, his research, and his arguments: They may be completely wrong. And yes, those words were worth emphasizing.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Racket Journalism

 

mugofcoffeedThis morning while looking for something to read with coffee round #1, I happened to click on an Andrew Klavan tweet (hey, Ricochet, that Twitter sidebar is becoming embarrassingly addictive), and Klavan pointed to this article on Yahoo. It’s by Rebecca Dana, and it was a pleasant enough diversion until I read the quoted paragraph below.

Is there something about the traditional game-show format—its reinforcement of old-fashioned family values, its populist sensibility, its neat 22-minute crystallization of the American dream—that draws a more conservative type to host? Is it that the show’s core audience, residing in the flyover states, generally prefers a certain red-blooded sort of man in charge? Is it all just a silly coincidence?

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Our Unbiased, Even-Handed, and Completely Impartial Press—Peter Robinson

 

As reported in the Washington Post, the fifth decennial survey of American journalists has just appeared. Whereas more than one in four journalists admit to being Democrats, the proportion that calls itself Republican is only one in fourteen.

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 6.16.43 PM

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