August 12, 2004
Guest Critic Juan Gonzalez, Unity Board Member: Our 2008 Convention Must Go Beyond Journalists of Color
The New York Daily News Columnist, Unity principal, and former head of the NAHJ: "As our alliance has moved from the fringes to the center stage of American journalism, I believe we have a responsibility not only to advocate for more hiring and promotion of journalists of color but to press for raising the general standards of our industry and profession." His agenda for Unity: "head in a more inclusive direction."
Special to PressThink
By Juan Gonzalez
New York Daily News
August 12, 2004
Terry Heaton’s recent remarks and the various critical commentaries that have surfaced about last week’s UNITY convention have prompted me to offer some thoughts to my white colleagues in the industry.
No doubt, creating a diverse newsroom is easier said than done. Many well-intentioned efforts have foundered over the years. Real diversity is not, as Heaton notes, simply a matter of reaching some numerical goal for different color faces in a newsroom. Genuine diversity involves changing the culture of newsrooms, of all who populate them – whether they are men or women, straight or gay, white, black, Asian, Hispanic or Native American.
It is no accident that the most frequently failed standards in accreditation reviews of journalism education programs at universities have been for years those standards for diversity in faculty and curriculum. Our journalism schools are routinely producing graduates, white and non-white, who are poorly trained in the importance of ethnic, racial and gender diversity (Read the excellent study by University of Texas journalism professor Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte, “Diversity Disconnect.”). Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of white journalism graduates enter the industry and get promoted through management ranks, and then end up unconsciously implementing the abysmal diversity training they received in college.
That is precisely why the individual organizations of minority journalists like NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA have arisen and grown during the past few decades. And that is why UNITY has developed into such a huge and powerful alliance within the industry. All of our organizations are a reaction to the industry’s past failures.
Sure, media executives and journalism foundations have expended lots of money, energy and effort toward integrating newsrooms. But much of that effort has been haphazard, poorly thought-out and misdirected. Moreover, the strategies were created and implemented by the very executives and managers who formerly presided over segregated newsrooms. That’s like asking a group of wife beaters to fashion a program to curb domestic violence. Maybe the analogy is a little extreme but the basic point is not. Any program aimed at eliminating the vestiges of racial and ethnic exclusion in American newsrooms will have a greater chance of success if it includes from its inception the ideas and thoughts of those who have been historically excluded.
The UNITY convention with its 8,200 registrants (and that is the final number) was the largest convention of journalists in U.S. history. It is no accident that such a large and historic gathering was organized by journalists of color instead of by the traditional organizations that have long dominated the industry – ASNE, NAA, RTNDA, SPJ, etc. Anyone who bothers to study the demographics of our nation will understand the enormous cultural and ethnic changes that are occurring. Already, nearly one-third of U.S. residents trace their ethnic origins to Africa, Asia and Latin America. By 2050, more than 50% of U.S. residents will be of non-European origin. Thus, the news media are merely reflecting broader social changes in our society.
That is not to say that UNITY is some exclusive club. It has always been open to participation by white journalists and executives, though I will be the first to admit there are significant numbers of members within each of the minority organizations who are not comfortable with inviting more white journalists, straight and gay, to attend our conventions. Those members, in my opinion, are wrong, and I have always told them.
As one of those who helped to found the UNITY concept, and as a board member of the alliance for the past two years, I have argued consistently for UNITY to head in a more inclusive direction. In other words, as our alliance has moved from the fringes to the center stage of American journalism, I believe we have a responsibility not only to advocate for more hiring and promotion of journalists of color but to press for raising the general standards of our industry and profession.
Many white journalists resent the fact that their non-white colleagues get to attend these conventions every year, often with the support of company management. All journalists deserve to get a few days out of every year for professional development and training, for exchanging viewpoints about best practices and ethical issues. But the failure of the industry to provide proper professional training to white journalists then turns into a source of friction and division within newsrooms.
More importantly, if white and non-white journalists have no opportunity to sit down together to discuss their views on coverage of race and ethnicity, we will never achieve a lasting change in newsroom culture. That’s why I believe the next UNITY, which is scheduled for 2008, must be far broader in its reach than just to journalists of color. That doesn’t mean, however, that minority journalists should suddenly discard a successful structure we have spent years building.
Rather, we should urge all the major professional associations in our industry ASNE, NAB, RTNDA, SPJ, IRE, etc. to schedule their 2008 conventions in the same city that UNITY designates for its next convention. That way all the journalists of our nation will have a chance to come together, exchange views and share some training. But to accomplish such a grandiose project, the traditional organizations in our industry will have to come to grips with demographic reality. They will have to accept that America is changing, and not just from a market standpoint. The news media are changing as well. And UNITY is a huge and growing part of our industry’s future.
After Matter: Notes, reaction and links…
Juan Gonzalez writes a column for the Daily News. He is Past President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and a Member of the Board of Directors of UNITY 2004.
Gonzalez refers to this study by Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte with Cristina Bodinger-de Uriarte and José Luis Benavides, Diversity Disconnects: From Class Room to News Room (2003). Here is the key passage in that report:
For more than thirty years, U.S. newsrooms have grappled with these issues. Basically,there are two paths toward a diverse newsroom: one is that of integration—a conscious effort to include individuals drawn from different racial and ethnic populations regardless of their intellectual preparation and perspectives.The other is to draw across demographic population groups with a conscious effort to include diverse intellectual world views. It is the contention of this report that one cannot be achieved without the other. Populations long excluded from educational equity and full participation in social-economic institutions may see a different nation. But the nation reported in mainstream media remains virtually unchanged. Much of this results from the way in which familiar mainstream perspectives are credentialed as accurate—so that different minority perspectives,often labeled as “opinion,” become suspect. Thus, integration does not insure intellectual diversity because prevailing consensus determines newsworthiness.
Gonzalez vs. ASNE: Gonzalez writes: “Our journalism schools are routinely producing graduates, white and non-white, who are poorly trained in the importance of ethnic, racial and gender diversity.” The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently released a study of editors conducted by its Education for Journalism Committee, “An Editors’ Agenda for Journalism Education.” (Inexplicably, it’s not online.) One of the few bright spots in the report was this:
Today’s journalism education graduates understand the importance of diversity more than graduates did five-years ago.
Strongly Disagree: 1%
Mostly Disagree: 13%
Stongly Agree: 20%
Mostly Agree: 65%
PressThink (Aug. 8): “The Crowd’s Reaction Made Some Unity Delegates Uncomfortable.”
Last week’s convention of minority journalists was the largest ever— 7,000 strong. Kerry spoke: standing ovation. Bush spoke: no ovation. Traditionalists in the press said: unprofessional! Critics on the right cried foul. Unity, coalition of minority voices, didn’t know what to say. And group think appealed to all. Here’s my critique of that. Plus (scroll down) reactions from the press and the blogs.
PressThink (Aug. 9): Unity and the Ovation for John Kerry: Letters to the Debate, 1-3. Includes mine to Romenesko and two from journalists Linda Picone and Jeff Shaw.
PressThink (Aug. 10): Ernest Sotomayor, President of UNITY writes a guest column: The President of Unity Says Don’t Blame Us for the “Liberal Media” Charge.
PressThink (Aug. 11): Guest Critic: Former TV News Director Terry Heaton Says Diversity Falls Apart in the Workplace
Contra Costa Times editorial (Aug. 11): Bush against legacies.
The President wasn’t really expecting a grilling. But then again, what should he expect when facing an auditorium full of journalists? It was in such a setting when President Bush renounced the use of legacies in college admissions. It was a stunning statement considering legacy was the avenue that allowed Bush to get admitted into an Ivy-League school, Yale, which gives preferential treatment to applicants whose parents and grandparents are alumni.
Keith Woods at Poynter: “Look through the schedule of Unity 2004, and for every investigative reporting session that might help Latino journalists reach a new reporting plane, there was a session on covering Latinos that could help white journalists take coverage to a new high. For every ‘What it Takes to be a Publisher’ session that lifted the aspirations of Asian or Native American journalists, there was a ‘Covering Changing Communities’ workshop that might have helped white journalists do the kind of work that these organizations so want to see done in their local newspapers and television stations.”
Chris Boese, blogger, writer and researcher for CNN, in comments here:
In newsroom cultures, this attitude is indoctrinated by the traditional “old salts,” by a hard news bias that focuses on concentric circles around centers of power (rich white men in suits) and blindly fails to see that which does not occur in those centers of power (unless it involves a missing girl or woman, or someone bitten by a shark).
I am criticizing the indoctrinated methods with which the traditional news pegs are interpreted— literally how we define what is news.
People in different minority groups in newsrooms, in order to move up the ranks, in order to write in the monolithic depersonalized “newsroom voice,” basically must learn to “write white.”
Regardless of how diverse the newsroom may be, the value judgments made in traditional newsroom fashion (often dictated by copyeditors in authoritarian, right/wrong terms that deadlines often force people to adopt), lead newsrooms unconsciously to homogenize around news values that give white male suits more credibility and power and thus higher rank on the scale of news criteria…
“What’s really being asserted by some is that these journalists of color can’t cut it.”
Here is the text of a letter to USA Today (Aug. 13) from Bryan Monroe, Vice President of the National Association of Black Journalists:
The entire debate over whether or not the journalists and other attendees at last week’s UNITY convention appropriately expressed themselves during the Kerry and Bush speeches may be masking a deeper issue. Some have argued that the clapping or laughing was unprofessional and “beneath” the canons of ethical journalism.
But I submit that what’s really being asserted by some is that these journalists of color can’t cut it. “See, they don’t act like us, subscribe to our values, play by our rules, so they must not be qualified for full admission into our club.”
That assertion is flat wrong.
I don’t remember reading similar criticism when the crowd of mostly white editors and publishers gave the same president a standing ovation and a toast at the ASNE/NAA convention a few months ago in D.C. And did I miss the stories about mainly white audiences of journalists laughing and carousing during any number of White House correspondents’ dinners?
As a UNITY board member and vice president of NABJ, I was in the room for both speeches last week. I rose to my feet and applauded when both men entered the room and departed. I laughed at the funny lines, and rolled my eyes at the more ridiculous ones (“You can’t read a newspaper if you can’t read…” “Tribal sovereignty means that, it’s … sovereign.” Q: Do you support affirmative action? A: “I support colleges affirmatively taking action to get more minorities in their school.”)
I responded first as a citizen, then as a citizen employed as a journalist. I was not working as a journalist that day, so I felt no obligation to stoically sit there and simply take notes.
Some argue that, as journalists, we’re always on the clock and therefore need to check our thoughts at the door. I think that’s a bit of a stretch.
What do you say to the sports reporters in the room, who rarely cover politics? Should they sit on their hands and never crack a smile during a presidential speech? Or, better yet, what do you say to a city hall reporter who attends a baseball game with his family? Should he not cheer when the home team scores a run or boo when the opposing pitcher throws a beanball at the batter?
Journalists are also human beings, mothers and fathers, Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Should we maintain an appearance of impartiality when working? Absolutely. Do we need to impose that on the rest of our lives? Perhaps not.
I think it’s been that extreme philosophy of detachment from the real world that has made our journalism so irrelevant to most “regular” people and branded us as disconnected, clueless elites.
Vice President-Print, National Association of Black Journalists
Board member, UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc.
Posted by Jay Rosen at August 12, 2004 12:34 PM
"Ain't.. This.. Sumpin"... (Story 'bout that one, but that's not for now.)
Well, you mother bloggers really are special.
But sometimes not...;-D
This wondrous The Net is supposed to be the way all questions will be answered SO exactly with SUCH immediacy. Well, call me Goober because I'm hearin' Gomer say Su-prise, su-prize, su-PRIZE...!". I'm sum-what surprised that more people haven't noticed.
There were two pieces of news-factoids on Gay Marriage yesterday, perhaps coincidently perhaps not, so you'd-a thunk fair press on the issue of Gay (cough) "Civil Rights" would be laying around to be picked up like wisdom on blogs.
Well, maybe it is.
I put "Civil Rights" in quotes, because imv the very PHRASEOLOGY is demeaning to all Blacks (all reasoning people, actually) who know even a little history of the struggle.
The thousands of lynchings, the burning of Churches (which, is my understanding, is still going on today), the back of the bus, the separate drinking fountains, keeping Blacks outta school.
I've not seen that, much a-TALL, in all this about Gay and Lesbian (and that's an oxymoron, a not-too-subtle-hypocricy, right there) "Civil Rights". Seen some, but not ANYTHING like the struggle the Blacks went through. And that'd be because there is, basically, NO similarity between the oppression of Gays and the oppression of Blacks.
I mean, other than Gays who smoke. In that respect, we've both been gettoized but that's PC "equality".
The sad fact in all this is that the Tech Press is so, So, SO, SO, SOOOOOO much WORSE than this here The Press. And my hypothesis is that these guys and gals have been on blogs for almost a decade now.
I hope some of you, inside The Press and outside The Press, give some thought to that sad fact. Let this one sink in a little bit, and consider how much Technology Press effects EVERYONE's life day-in-and-day-out... (And, I s'pose, bloggers could (in theory) give some thought to the subject(s) as well...)-;
To bring this full-circle, I "heard" on a blog (so it's just blogger, ie, rumor) that The Press applauded the phraseology of the NJ Govenor's speech, when he (cough) showed SUCH "courage" and said he was gay.
Corn-fusion abounds, watch bloggers confound.
Anybody posing as Ben Franklin identifies their intelligence, no matter what their IQ is.
Point is, to you memer's who still have (almost) no understanding of your (almost) craft:
If you start with a left-of-center pov and a out-in-left-field libber pov, and then reach 'the middle ground' and call it 'center' and 'moderate'..
..Well, you're pov will end up out in left field, no matter how centered you call it. (Or 'Libertarian' or whatever marketing-stupidity you wanna market this 'new Centrist pov' as.)
If you note, pseudo-friend-of-Americans-and-America, there was 12 hours in between my writings. If you call that talking incessently, you are as deluded as usual.
Ah yes, I see you are.
So a view that sex between a man and a woman is NOT the same as sex between 2 women (or 2 men, or any combination(s) thereof)..
..that would be, by fiat, a bigotted statement...?
Is that the crux of your argument, illogical-one...??
Well, as soon as you admit they are NOT the same, the one might be presumed to be better than the other. That'd be the rub. One is. Just not ALways, in each and every case, of course.
And the view that sex between a black man and a white woman, or a black woman and a white man, or any combination there of..
..the view that this is THE SAME as sex between 2 or more women (etc. etc.. okay?)....
Are you saying that is not prejudiced, right there, pseudo-Ben...??
The euphimism of 'same-sex marriage' carries this same baggage, btw. "IZ ALL ABOUT THE SAMENESS, DUDE!!!" Yeah, right... So I think you want me to shut my mouth because I'm right and you aren't. Just curious, how old are you, pseudo-Ben?? (not that I'd EXPECT an honest answer, but just thought I'd ask.. and your name??)...
There are no links. It's an article I could write except for 3 things:
1) "Sufficient" credentials
3) I ain't doin a top-quality job for free
And I may not know a whole lot about prejudice against Gays, but I've seen some, on account of the fact that I don't practice that prejudice myself.
And, as I've written before (approx) it's pretty cruel and unusual punishment to use The Net, The Blog, and The Press and ESPECIALLY The Tech Press (to use all those terms loosely).. To show people around the globe, some of whom are shooting their work-animals to get food, all this glitz and glamour...
Bin Laden IS an 'American' in training and abilities and his crew sees all this crap, is my point.
Yeah, "it's all good" (tm) sure feels good.. it feels "right".. for a time.
So al Sadr isn't entirely wrong when he says:
"We got a letter from him saying 'Be steadfast and behave rationally, don't surrender to your emotions,'" Aws al-Khafaji, from al-Sadr's office in the southern town of Nasiriyah, told Al-Jazeera television.
But Muqtanda is yet corn-fused, still:
He called on Iraqis to rebel "because I will not allow another Saddam-like government again."
He appears to be confused about who it was that got rid of Saddam for.. not him.. but ALL of the Iraqi People. And he is as confused as the Press about the difference between a 'militant' and a terrorist and those who associate with terrorists.
But if al Sadr can catch even a whiff of wisdom, then why not the world Press, and especially the world's TECH pseudo-Press...?!? I ask this, non-rhetorically!!!
Come-ta think of it, I don't see any further need to define "Libertarian Lobotomy", and the effects on the Press and the Tech Press and THAT effect on the Tech sector of the economy.
Just did, if you observe with even a little scrutiny.
I spoke too soon about al Sadr:
"If all multinational forces, Iraqi police and soldiers leave Najaf and the Marjayia agrees to take responsibility for the city, "the Mehdi Army would pull out from Najaf", Sumeisim said, while stressing they refused to disarm."
Yeah, now I see where the "allegedly" murderous scum is coming from, clearly. This entire "insurrection" began when there was an attempt to serve an arrest warrant.
He wants the Iraqi police outta there, which is why his forces have been targetting the police.
And I sort-a figured as much, but I was willing to sacrifice principle for practicality, if he had been willing to disarm his 'militants'. Looked like he might go in that direction, but instead has decided to just try to save his own neck, and sacrifice his troops at the altar of his own self.
And the press, scum that they are, don't even recognize the oxymoron, either:
"the holy Imam Ali shrine, a Mehdi Army bastion since its spring uprising..."
An 'uprising' is when somebody is oppressed, not when they are served a murder warrant, iirc. And if you check articles yesterday or the day before, you'll see a quote by an aide of al Sadr (approx) "accusing the U.S. of crimes against humanity". Now, I didn't check but I may be correct but it doesn't matter:
I believe, but icbw, this very same aide (or another) also announced that al Sadr was TAKING NO PRISONERS. ANY IRAQI's CAUGHT WOULD BE KILLED.
I do NOT recollect the Red Cross jumping in like they normally do, to cry foul, btw. Odd, that...
So I was wrong about al Sadr, just as some no small number of Iraqi.
Pseudo-Ben, do you want me to correct your errors, really??
You don't have to like Sadr to agree that invasion without a plan or allies or legitimacy has made Iraq a living hell.
Sadr is making Iraq a living hell. The irony of your agreement with him is rather distasteful, and typical of the ABB-hate-lobotomized Left. The organized remnants of the Fayadeen and IIS are making Iraq a living hell. The remnants of Ansar al-Islam and other imported terrorists are making Iraq a living hell.
The UN was bombed in Baghdad due to their own negligence and fled. Was that the legitimacy you find missing? The same UN that has stepped aside and watched genocide in Europe and Africa?
No doubt that our "allies" France and Germany have been less than allies, adhering to their pro-Saddam policies they displayed in 1998. No doubt that Britain, Italy, Australia, Poland, ..., have been faithful allies. No doubt Spain and Phillipines have been fair weather allies.
Yes, it was a dead hell before, and it's a living hell now. That's the whole point. Who wants to live in hell? This "plan" is not liberating anyone.
One might argue it has liberated too many. It liberated the theocrats and Iran is engaging in a proxy war during the democratic transition. It liberated criminals and dissenters, with all the difficulties of a burgeoning government to detain the former and encourage/tolerate the latter. It has liberated the tribal leaders to renew tribal power struggles.
The graybeards before the war predicted a descent into chaos, anarchy, civil war, millions of refugees and 100,000s dead from war ravages of disease and destroyed infrastructure.
There was a plan, we have allies, and we have a great deal of legitimacy (of course, a Lefty might ask a Czech or Pole or Afghani about legitimate invasions).
The Shiites hated Saddam. Since we have lobotomized away our first seventy reasons for invading and don't really care about terrorism there, if we're all about liberation in Iraq, shouldn't we at least be on the same side as the people Saddam persecuted? Show me the liberation!
We are. We are not on Sadr's side. Which side are you on?
To rephrase JJT more accurately, the current plan is like invading a Catholic country so we can liberate them into being puppet Protestants as long as the foreign army stays around on their fourteen brand new bases. Great plan. Hail freedom.
Again, like we have where? Germany? Japan? Korea? Phillipines? ...?
You are demonstrating rather well the self-lobotimization of the Left that has blurred its vision to see total failure where success has been limited and rant in apocalyptic terms when thoughtful determination is required.
PressThink: An Introduction
We need to keep the press from being absorbed into The Media. This means keeping the word press, which is antiquated. But included under its modern umbrella should be all who do the serious work in journalism, regardless of the technology used. The people who will invent the next press in America--and who are doing it now online--continue an experiment at least 250 years old. It has a powerful social history and political legend attached...
The People Formerly Known as the Audience:
"You don't own the eyeballs. You don't own the press, which is now divided into pro and amateur zones. You don't control production on the new platform, which isn't one-way. There's a new balance of power between you and us." More...
Migration Point for the Press Tribe: "Like reluctant migrants everywhere, the people in the news tribe have to decide what to take with them. When to leave. Where to land. They have to figure out what is essential to their way of life. They have to ask if what they know is portable." More...
Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over: "Here is one advantage bloggers have in the struggle for reputation-- for the user's trust. They are closer to the transaction where trust gets built up on the Web. There's a big difference between tapping a built-up asset, like the St. Pete Times 'brand,' and creating it from scratch." More...
"Where's the Business Model for News, People?" "It’s remarkable to me how many accomplished producers of those goods the future production of which is in doubt are still at the stage of asking other people, “How are we going to pay our reporters if you guys don’t want to pay for our news?'" More...
National Explainer: A Job for Journalists on the Demand Side of News
This American Life's great mortgage crisis explainer, The Giant Pool of Money, suggests that "information" and "explanation" ought to be reversed in our order of thought. Especially as we contemplate new news systems. More...
The Beast Without a Brain: Why Horse Race Journalism Works for Journalists and Fails Us. "Just so you know, 'the media' has no mind. It cannot make decisions. Which means it does not 'get behind' candidates. It does not decide to oppose your guy… or gal. It is a beast without a brain. Most of the time, it doesn’t know what it’s doing.." More...
They're Not in Your Club but They Are in Your League: Firedoglake at the Libby Trial: "I’m just advising Newsroom Joe and Jill: make room for FDL in your own ideas about what’s coming on, news-wise. Don’t let your own formula (blog=opinion) fake you out. A conspiracy of the like minded to find out what happened when the national news media isn’t inclined to tell us might be way more practical than you think." More...
Twilight of the Curmudgeon Class: "We’re at the twilight of the curmudgeon class in newsrooms and J-schools. (Though they can still do a lot of damage.) You know they’re giving up when they no longer bother to inform themselves about what they themselves say is happening." More...
Getting the Politics of the Press Right: Walter Pincus Rips into Newsroom Neutrality "The important thing is to show integrity-- not to be a neuter, politically. And having good facts that hold up is a bigger advantage than claiming to reflect all sides equally well." More...
A Most Useful Definition of Citizen Journalism "It's mine, but it should be yours. Can we take the quote marks off now? Can we remove the 'so-called' from in front? With video!." More...
The Master Narrative in Journalism: "Were 'winning' to somehow be removed or retired as the operating system for news, campaign reporting would immediately become harder to do, not because there would be no news, but rather no common, repeatable instructions for deciding what is a key development in the story, a turning point, a surprise, a trend. Master narratives are thus harder to alter than they are to apprehend. For how do you keep the story running while a switch is made?" More...
He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User "Any good blogger, competing journalist or alert press critic can spot and publicize false balance and the lame acceptance of fact-free spin. Do users really want to be left helpless in sorting out who's faking it more? The he said, she said form says they do, but I say decline has set in." More...
Users-Know-More-than-We-Do Journalism: "It's a "put up or shut up" moment for open source methods in public interest reporting. Can we take good ideas like... distributed knowledge, social networks, collaborative editing, the wisdom of crowds, citizen journalism, pro-am reporting... and put them to work to break news?" More...
Introducing NewAssignment.Net: "Enterprise reporting goes pro-am. Assignments are open sourced. They begin online. Reporters working with smart users and blogging editors get the story the pack wouldn't, couldn't or didn't." More...
What I Learned from Assignment Zero "Here are my coordinates for the territory we need to be searching. I got them from doing a distributed trend story with Wired.com and thinking through the results." More...
If Bloggers Had No Ethics Blogging Would Have Failed, But it Didn't. So Let's Get a Clue: "Those in journalism who want to bring ethics to blogging ought to start with why people trust (some) bloggers, not with an ethics template made for a prior platform operating as a closed system in a one-to-many world." More...
The View From Nowhere: "Occupy the reasonable middle between two markers for 'vocal critic,' and critics look ridiculous charging you with bias. Their symmetrical existence feels like proof of an underlying hysteria. Their mutually incompatible charges seem to cancel each other out. The minute evidence they marshall even shows a touch of fanaticism." More...
Rollback: "This White House doesn't settle for managing the news--what used to be called 'feeding the beast'--because there is a larger aim: to roll back the press as a player within the executive branch, to make it less important in running the White House and governing the country." More...
Retreat from Empiricism: On Ron Suskind's Scoop: ""Realist, a classic term in foreign policy debates, and reality-based, which is not a classic term but more of an instant classic, are different ideas. We shouldn't fuzz them up. The press is capable of doing that because it never came to terms with what Suskind reported in 2004." More...
Karl Rove and the Religion of the Washington Press: "Savviness--that quality of being shrewd, practical, well-informed, perceptive, ironic, 'with it,' and unsentimental in all things political--is, in a sense, their professional religion. They make a cult of it. And it was this cult that Karl Rove understood and exploited for political gain." More...
Journalism Is Itself a Religion: "We're headed, I think, for schism, tumult and divide as the religion of the American press meets the upheavals in global politics and public media that are well underway. Changing around us are the terms on which authority can be established by journalists. The Net is opening things up, shifting the power to publish around. Consumers are becoming producers, readers can be writers." More...
News Turns from a Lecture to a Conversation: "Some of the pressure the blogs are putting on journalists shows up, then, in the demand for "news as conversation," more of a back-and-forth, less of a pronouncement. This is an idea with long roots in academic journalism that suddenly (as in this year) jumped the track to become part of the news industry's internal dialogue." More...
Two Washington Posts May Be Better Than One: "They're not equals, but Washington and Arlington have their own spheres. Over the newspaper and reporting beats Len Downie is king. Over the website Jim Brady is sovereign. Over the userï¿½s experience no one has total control. There's tension because there's supposed to be tension." More...
Laying the Newspaper Gently Down to Die: "An industry that won't move until it is certain of days as good as its golden past is effectively dead, from a strategic point of view. Besides, there is an alternative if you don't have the faith or will or courage needed to accept reality and deal. The alternative is to drive the property to a profitable demise." More...
Grokking Woodward: "Woodward and Bernstein of 1972-74 didn't have such access, and this probably influenced--for the better--their view of what Nixon and his men were capable of. Watergate wasn't broken by reporters who had entree to the inner corridors of power. It was two guys on the Metro Desk." More...
Maybe Media Bias Has Become a Dumb Debate: "This here is a post for practically everyone in the game of seizing on media bias and denouncing it, which is part of our popular culture, and of course a loud part of our politics. And this is especially for the 'we're fair and balanced, you're not' crowd, wherever I may have located you." More...
Bill O'Reilly and the Paranoid Style in News: "O'Reilly feeds off his own resentments--the establishment sneering at Inside Edition--and like Howard Beale, the 'mad prophet of the airwaves,' his resentments are enlarged by the medium into public grievances among a mass of Americans unfairly denied voice." More...
Thoughts on the Killing of a Young Correspondent: "Among foreign correspondents, there is a phrase: 'parachuting in.' That's when a reporter drops into foreign territory during an emergency, without much preparation, staying only as long as the story remains big. The high profile people who might parachute in are called Bigfoots in the jargon of network news. The problem with being a Bigfoot, of course, is that it's hard to walk in other people's shoes." More...
The News From Iraq is Not Too Negative. But it is Too Narrow: "The bias charges are getting more serious lately as the stakes rise in Iraq and the election. But there is something lacking in press coverage, and it may be time for wise journalists to assess it. The re-building story has gone missing. And without it, how can we judge the job Bush is doing?." More...
The Abyss of Observation Alone. "There are hidden moral hazards in the ethic of neutral observation and the belief in a professional 'role' that transcends other loyalties. I think there is an abyss to observation alone. And I feel it has something to do with why more people don't trust journalists. They don't trust that abyss." More...
"Find Some New Information and Put it Into Your Post." Standards for Pro-Am Journalism at OffTheBus: "Opinion based on information 'everyone' has is less valuable than opinion journalism based on information that you dug up, originated, or pieced together. So it’s not important to us that contributors keep opinion out. What’s important is that they put new information in. More...
Out in the Great Wide Open: Maybe you heard about the implosion of Wide Open, a political blog started by the Cleveland Plain Dealer with four "outside" voices brought in from the ranks of Ohio bloggers: two left, two right. Twelve points you may not have seen elsewhere." More...
Some Bloggers Meet the Bosses From Big Media: "What capacity for product development do news organizations show? Zip. How are they on nurturing innovation? Terrible. Is there an entreprenurial spirit in newsrooms? No. Do smart young people ever come in and overturn everything? Never." More...
Notes and Comment on BlogHer 2005 "I think the happiest conference goers at BlogHer were probably the newbies, people who want to start blogging or just did. They got a lot of good information and advice. Some of the best information was actually dispensed in response to the fears provoked by blogging, which shouldnï¿½t be avoided, the sages said, but examined, turned around, defused, and creatively shrunk.." More...
Top Ten List: What's Radical About the Weblog Form in Journalism? "The weblog comes out of the gift economy, whereas most of today's journalism comes out of the market economy." More...
A Second Top Ten List: What's Conservative About the Weblog Form in Journalism? "The quality of any weblog in journalism depends greatly on its fidelity to age old newsroom commandments like check facts, check links, spell things correctly, be accurate, be timely, quote fairly." More...
Blogging is About Making and Changing Minds: "Sure, weblogs are good for making statements, big and small. But they also force re-statement. Yes, they're opinion forming. But they are equally good at unforming opinion, breaking it down, stretching it out." More...
The Weblog: An Extremely Democratic Form in Journalism "It's pirate radio, legalized; it's public access coming closer to life. Inside the borders of Blogistan (a real place with all the problems of a real place) we're closer to a vision of 'producer democracy' than we are to any of the consumerist views that long ago took hold in the mass media, including much of the journalism presented on that platform." More...
No One Owns Journalism: "And Big Media doesn't entirely own the press, because if it did then the First Amendment, which mentions the press, would belong to Big Media. And it doesn't. These things were always true. The weblog doesn't change them. It just opens up an outlet to the sea. Which in turn extends 'the press' to the desk in the bedroom of the suburban mom, where she blogs at night." More...
Brain Food for BloggerCon: Journalism and Weblogging in Their Corrected Fullness "Blogging is one universe. Its standard unit is the post, its strengths are the link and the low costs of entry, which means lots of voices. Jounalism is another universe. Its standard unit is "the story." Its strengths are in reporting, verification and access-- as in getting your calls returned." More...
Dispatches From the Un-Journalists: "Journalists think good information leads to opinion and argument. It's a logical sequence. Bloggers think that good argument and strong opinion cause people to seek information, an equally logical sequence. What do the bloggers bring to this? My short answer to the press is: everything you have removed."More...
Political Jihad and the American Blog: Chris Satullo Raises the Stakes "Journalists, you can stop worrying about bloggers 'replacing' the traditional news media. We're grist for their mill, says Satullo, a mill that doesn't run without us. Bloggers consume and extend the shelf life of our reporting, and they scrutinize it at a new level of intensity.."More...
Raze Spin Alley, That Strange Creation of the Press: "Spin Alley, an invention of the American press and politicos, shows that the system we have is in certain ways a partnership between the press and insiders in politics. They come together to mount the ritual. An intelligent nation is entitled to ask if the partners are engaged in public service when they bring to life their invention... Alternative thesis: they are in a pact of mutual convenience that serves no intelligible public good." More...
Horse Race Now! Horse Race Tomorrow! Horse Race Forever!: "How is it you know you're the press? Because you have a pass that says PRESS, and people open the gate. The locker room doors admit you. The story must be inside that gate; that's why they give us credentials. We get closer. We tell the fans what's going on. And if this was your logic, Bill James tried to bust it. Fellahs, said he to the baseball press, you have to realize that you are the gate." More...
Psst.... The Press is a Player: "The answer, I think, involves an open secret in political journalism that has been recognized for at least 20 years. But it is never dealt with, probably because the costs of facing it head on seem larger than the light tax on honesty any open secret demands. The secret is this: pssst... the press is a player in the campaign. And even though it knows this, as everyone knows it, the professional code of the journalist contains no instructions in what the press could or should be playing for?" More...
Die, Strategy News: "I think it's a bankrupt form. It serves no clear purpose, has no sensible rationale. The journalists who offer us strategy news do not know what public service they are providing, why they are providing it, for whom it is intended, or how we are supposed to use this strange variety of news."More...
He Said, She Said, We Said: "When journalists avoid drawing open conclusions, they are more vulnerable to charges of covert bias, of having a concealed agenda, of not being up front about their perspective, of unfairly building a case (for, against) while pretending only to report 'what happened.'" More...
If Religion Writers Rode the Campaign Bus: "Maybe irony, backstage peaking and "de-mystify the process" only get you so far, and past that point they explain nothing. Puzzling through the convention story, because I'm heading right into it myself, made me to realize that journalism's contempt for ritual was deeply involved here. Ritual is newsless; therefore it must be meaningless. But is that really true?."More...
Convention Coverage is a Failed Regime and Bloggers Have Their Credentials: "No one knows what a political convention actually is, anymore, or why it takes 15,000 people to report on it. Two successive regimes for making sense of the event have collapsed; a third has not emerged. That's a good starting point for the webloggers credentialed in Boston. No investment in the old regime and its ironizing." More...
Philip Gourevitch: Campaign Reporting as Foreign Beat: "'A presidential election is a like a gigantic moving television show,' he said. It is the extreme opposite of an overlooked event. The show takes place inside a bubble, which is a security perimeter overseen by the Secret Service. If you go outside the bubble for any reason, you become a security risk until you are screened again by hand."More...
What Time is it in Political Journalism? "Adam Gopnik argued ten years ago that the press did not know who it was within politics, or what it stood for. There was a vacuum in journalism where political argument and imagination should be. Now there are signs that this absence of thought is ending." More...
Off the Grid Journalism: “The assignment was straightforward enough,” writes Marjie Lundstrom of the Sacramento Bee, “talk to people.” When a writer dissents from it or departs from it, the master narrative is a very real thing. Here are two examples: one from politics, one from music. More...
Questions and Answers About PressThink "The Web is good for many opposite things. For quick hitting information. For clicking across a field. For talk and interaction. It's also a depth finder, a memory device, a library, an editor. Not to use a weblog for extended analysis (because most users won't pick that option) is Web dumb but media smart. What's strange is that I try to write short, snappy things, but they turn into long ones." More...