MySpace has become a textbook case of how quickly a digital juggernaut can become a has-been, writes Matthew Flamm. The head of a research firm tells him: "It may be that Rupert [Murdoch] is ultimately a newspaper guy. The idea [with MySpace] may have been, 'We bought you, so make it happen for us.'"
Perhaps Rupert just couldn't figure out how to force one point of view down the throats of a few million users.
Go! Do things internets! I command thee!
Editor & Publisher has an interesting look at how newspaper editors are reacting to the use of popular social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook by their journalists. As you can imagine, newspaper ethics policies for social networking sites are all over the map...
From Editor & Publisher:
The Los Angeles Times issued a list of guidelines in March, while The Wall Street Journal gained attention in May when it expanded its conduct guidelines to include a host of online-related restrictions, including warnings not to "friend" confidential sources or get into Web- related arguments with critics. The Washington Post, just a day later, did the same (as I observe in my story on p. 5). But not everyone is laying down the law on Twitter. Some papers want staffers to take a casual, open approach, while others admit they aren't sure how to police the social media outlets and still allow them to be useful.
Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, started tweeting, albeit sparingly, last month. "I have asked people to use common sense and respect the workplace and assume whatever they tweet will be tied to the paper," he told me. "Even when they are tweeting personal information to their followers, they are still representing the New York Times."
The Washington Post's new policy on social networking sites, created in mid-May, asks users to avoid "verbal fisticuffs with rivals or critics." The paper's policy adds: "In general, we expect that the journalism our reporters produce will be published through The Washington Post, in print or digitally, not on personal blogs, Facebook or MySpace pages, or via Twitter or other new media. We are happy to have reporters post links to their stories or other Post material.
The Los Angeles Times "social media" guidelines make clear that staffers are always representing the paper when they engage in online activities: "Assume that your professional life and your personal life merge online regardless of your care in separating them. Don't write or post anything that would embarrass the LAT or compromise your ability to do your job."
When I asked Associated Press Director of Media Relations Paul Colford about Twitter and Facebook policies, he cited a portion of the AP's "news values and principles," which states: "Anyone who works for the AP must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP's reputation as an unbiased source of news."
Perhaps news outlets (print/broadcast/online) should post their ethics policies online. Not just policies as they relate to social networking but the policies that guide reporters in general.
Over the years we've seen numerous examples of media figures breaching the tenants of basic journalistic integrity if not their employers' stated ethics policies. If editors are too busy to police their own reporters, I'm sure the American people would be happy to pick up the slack – on Twitter, on Facebook, on the news pages or on the air.
If you use the social networking site Facebook, be sure to join the official Media Matters page and those of our senior fellows Eric Boehlert, Jamison Foser, and Karl Frisch as well. You can also follow Media Matters, Boehlert, Foser, and Frisch on Twitter.
It's the one conservatives, and even Beltway pundits, are still crowing about as definitive proof that the press has swooned over Obama; that it refuses to write critically about the new president. That the press has a liberal bias.
It's all very awful and dangerous, we're told again and again:
The Obama infatuation is a great unreported story of our time. Has any recent president basked in so much favorable media coverage? Well, maybe John Kennedy for a moment; but no president since. On the whole, this is not healthy for America.
That was the Washington Post's Robert Samuelson, who built a recent column around the Pew study. In fact, it was the only evidence Samuelson used to prove his point. The Pew study said it all, right?
First, we've never been crazy about the Pew studies simply because they're an act of faith. Pew says its researchers look over all kinds of media coverage and determine which reports are "favorable," which were "neutral" and which were "negative." Personally, I don't see how most news report could or would fit into any category but "neutral."
Does Pew really suggest that Newsweek or the New York Times routinely publish political news article that are entirely positive or entirely negative. That doesn't sound like the news report I'm familiar with.
But more importantly with the Obama study, Pew made a very big deal about the fact that 42 percent of Obama's press coverage was, according to its researchers, positive. But when you start poking around Pew's methodology, that number doesn't look so firm. Why? Because the 42 percent figure was culled from a study that examined just seven media outlets to determine the tone of Obama's coverage.
No joke. The Pew study only monitored coverage in the Times, the WashPost, Newsweek, as well as the evening news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS.
That kind of study might have worked in 1984 or even 1994. But it in no way reflects the mushrooming media choices news consumers face today. And that's why, to Pew's credit, it did a second, broader study, which monitored Obama's coverage among nearly 50 media outlets, including cable TV and online.
What were the results of that study? Obama's press coverage was first and foremost neutral, not positive: 40 percent neutral, 37 percent positive and 23 percent negative. But rather than go with the headline "Obama's Press Coverage Mostly Neutral," Pew hyped the finding from the study with the ridiculously small media base and crowed that the new president's coverage was quite favorable.
BTW, the name of the Pew study was "Obama's First 100 Days" even though it really wasn't:
"Obama's First 100 Days" is based on the aggregated data and coding from January 21 through March 21, 2009. This timeframe begins the day following the inauguration of President Obama and runs through his 60th day in office.
I'm just sayin'.
Over the years Media Matters has released several detailed reports documenting the lack of ideological, racial and gender diversity within the media in general and on the all-important Sunday morning network political talk shows more specifically.
Well, this morning The Hill reports that the Congressional Black Caucus is calling for increased diversity on the Sunday shows:
"I'm not pleased at all with the diversity issue as it relates to talk shows," CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in an interview with The Hill. "We have, what, 17 subcommittee chairs and four full-committee chairmen? These members are brilliant; they know their stuff. They're powerful and they should be part of the Sunday morning talk shows."
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), secretary of the CBC, calls himself a "fan" of the Sunday shows, but said he'd like to see change.
"The morning talk shows need to increase the number of African-Americans," Butterfield said. "Not only for diversity, but it would also be good for the ratings."
The comments come three years after a study found a striking lack of black participants on the shows. The original study was completed before Democrats took over Congress in the 2006 elections, which put many more black and Hispanic lawmakers into positions of power.
But some legislators say that hasn't been reflected on the shows.
In the past, the networks have contended that their guest line-ups reflect those in power despite the fact that little changed in 2007 after Democrats took control of Congress. By their own standard one would expect things to look a little different on Sunday mornings these days.
Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.
Here are the numbers for last Friday, June 12, 2009:
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 28
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 23
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 5
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 10
Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1
CNN Headline News: 4
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 1
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1
Fox News Channel: 13
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 4
Marxism, Marxist/s: 5
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2
Fox Business Network: 10
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 9
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 9
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 6
Marxism, Marxist/s: 1
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 4
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
Marxism, Marxist/s: 1
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0
The above numbers are the result of a TVeyes.com power search for these terms on these networks.
While much of the media has relied on the Jeffrey Rosen Method of Determining Judicial Temperament (also known as "assuming that a small handful of anonymous quotes tell the whole story") NPR actually listened to recordings of oral arguments in two high-profile cases involving Sonia Sotomayor. NPR's Nina Totenberg concluded:
Yes, these are tough questions, but are they mean, unduly snotty or abusive? No more so than the questions heard on a routine basis in the U.S. Supreme Court.
But a handful of anonymous observers have said she is a bully. What could possibly explain those complaints, if they aren't consistent with actual audio recordings of Sotomayor in action? Oh. Right:
Judge Guido Calabresi, former Yale Law School dean and Sotomayor's mentor, now says that when Sotomayor first joined the Court of Appeals, he began hearing rumors that she was overly aggressive, and he started keeping track, comparing the substance and tone of her questions with those of his male colleagues and his own questions.
"And I must say I found no difference at all. So I concluded that all that was going on was that there were some male lawyers who couldn't stand being questioned toughly by a woman," Calabresi says. "It was sexism in its most obvious form."
Look what I came across while researching my column about media coverage of the American Medical Association (note the date):
The Associated Press
Health Reform Failure Wouldn't Neccessarily Mean Big Price Increases
BYLINE: By STEVE SAKSON, AP Business Writer
SECTION: Business News
LENGTH: 750 words
DATELINE: NEW YORK
The price of health care could accelerate if Congress fails to pass major reforms, but that doesn't mean doctor bills will double or prescription drugs become a privilege of the rich.
America's corporations - the biggest buyers of health benefits - have been forcing reforms on their own for years. Regardless what happens in Washington they'll keep cutting costs, reducing chances that drug companies, hospitals and other medical providers would seek to sharply raise prices.
Just something to keep in mind the next time you see a news report offer industry-friendly spin that things won't be that bad if comprehensive health care reform doesn't happen.
Before this story completely slips away, let's take a quick look at this dubious spin from Politico:
The weeklong scuffle between Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and late-night comedian David Letterman has given many on the political right something they've lacked in recent months — a tasty target.
Oh for crying out loud, conservatives have been running short on targets? The political right hasn't had anyone to rally its hate around? This is just too much.
The truth is that conservatives, with the hyperventilating help of the GOP's media Noise Machine, have spent the last four months turning Barack Obama into a barn-size target, accusing the new president of every conceivable (and inconceivable) sin against humanity.
Conservatives couldn't find a target before the Letterman kerfuffle? Please, target practice is the only game they play. Just as Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who right-wing talkers immediately demonized as a "racist."
It's quite astonishing that a Beltway news outlet, such as Politico, witnesses the relentless, unprecedented attacks against Obama yet still thinks conservatives have been lacking in targets. The unhinged attacks on Obama represent arguably the biggest Beltway news story of the year, yet Politico remains oblivious to the destructive brand of hardball being played by the right.
From Walter E. Williams' June 13 oped in The Washington Times, headlined, "Americans love government:
I don't think that stupidity, ignorance or insanity explains the love that many Americans hold for government; it's far more sinister and perhaps hopeless. I'll give a few examples to make my case. Many Americans want money they don't personally own to be used for what they see as good causes such as handouts to farmers, poor people, college students, senior citizens and businesses. If they privately took someone's earnings to give to a farmer, college student or senior citizen, they would be hunted down as thieves and carted off to jail. However, they get Congress to do the identical thing, through its taxing power, and they are seen as compassionate and caring. In other words, people love government because government, while having neither moral nor constitutional authority, has the legal and physical might to take the property of one American and give it to another.
The unanticipated problem with this agenda is that as Congress uses its might to take what belongs to one American to give to another - what President Obama calls "spreading the wealth around" - more and more Americans will want to participate in the looting. It will ultimately produce something none of us wants: absolute control over our lives.
The path we're embarked upon, in the name of good, is a familiar one. The unspeakable horrors of Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism did not begin in the '30s and '40s with the men usually associated with those names. Those horrors were simply the end result of a long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the name of "social justice." In Germany, it led to the Enabling Act of 1933: Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation. After all, who could be against a remedy to relieve distress? Decent but misguided Germans, who would have cringed at the thought of what Nazi Germany would become, succumbed to Hitler's charisma.
Today's Americans, enticed, perhaps enchanted, by charismatic speeches, are ceding so much power to Washington, and like yesteryear's Germans, are building the Trojan horse for a future tyrant.
From Jeffrey Kuhner's June 13 oped in The Washington Times, headlined, "Capitulation in Cairo?":
The liberals' mantra is that the majority of Muslims are nonviolent moderates. This is undeniably true. But it misses the point.
During the 1930s, appeasement was based upon the notion that a majority of Germans were decent people who simply wanted peace and national self-determination. Thus, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made the fateful decision to give away the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia's ethnic German region, to Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.
By betraying the Czechs at the Munich conference, Chamberlain believed he had secured "peace for our time." Instead, he had emboldened Hitler to wage a war of conquest. The end result was a Europe in tatters, 50 million dead and the Holocaust. The fact that there were countless moderate, anti-Nazi Germans meant nothing. Their refusal to speak out against Hitler's Aryan racialism guaranteed its march to power - and destruction. History reveals that it is militant minorities - not reasonable majorities - that often drive events.
Across the Muslim world, Islamists are on the march. They may represent only 10 percent of the Muslim population, but that still amounts to nearly 150 million people. Mr. Obama rarely mentioned democracy and never said the word "terrorism."
Yet the Middle East does not need greater empathy nor multicultural sensitivity. Rather, it needs to hear cold, hard truths: Its backwardness is rooted in the lack of Enlightenment modernity and liberal democracy. The region's despots foster anti-Semitic, anti-American hatred to distract citizens from their profound misrule. The absence of press freedoms, political accountability and the rule of law has only fueled Islamic fascism. The darkness of dictatorship breeds jihadism; to drain the terrorist swamp requires systemic democratic reform - which Mr. Obama refused to address openly and candidly.
He could have called for Egypt's corrupt autocracy to release democratic dissidents rotting in its jails. He could have called for Saudi Arabia to no longer fund radical madrassas. He could have called on Arab rulers to stop persecuting Jews and Christians. He could have called on Syria to end its support for Hamas and Hezbollah. But he did not.
Instead, Mr. Obama highlighted the core principle of his foreign policy: a tough line against Israel. He repeated his call for an independent Palestinian state and for Jerusalem to halt expanding settlements. The key issue in the region, however, is not Palestine. It is Iran.
Mr. Obama is repeating Chamberlain's tragic mistake - except this time, the Israelis are to play the role of the Czechs, the sacrificial lamb at the altar of appeasement. Senior Israeli intelligence officials admit the Obama administration has privately told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington can live with an Iranian nuclear bomb. Mr. Obama believes it is only a matter of time. Moreover, should Israel attack Iran's nuclear sites to prevent the mullahs from achieving the bomb, Jerusalem - not Tehran - will be blamed for any military conflict.
A few days ago, I referenced new research into the difficulty correcting misinformation once it takes root.
Brendan Nyhan, the author of the new paper, makes an important point:
Both this paper and my previous research with Reifler indicate that corrections often fail to reduce misperceptions and sometimes make them worse. For that reason, it's essential that elites who promote misperceptions be publicly shamed in front of other elites.
This, as I have noted several times, is something the media does very, very poorly:
Reporters tend to privilege lying, rather than punishing it. In order to remove the incentives for lying, the media should shun, rather than embrace, people who have a history of spreading falsehoods. ... The primary disincentive to political figures spreading misinformation is the possibility that they will be seen as dishonest. If the media refuses to make that dishonesty clear, there will be more misinformation.
The problem is not, of course, limited to the media's treatment of political figures; it is perhaps even worse when it comes to the media's treatment of journalists and pundits.
Just this week, for example, Time magazine published an assessment of Sonia Sotomayor written by Jeffrey Rosen. The same Jeffrey Rosen whose innuendo-laden hit piece on Sotomayor for The New Republic is probably the most widely, and correctly, criticized article of the year. The same Jeffrey Rosen who wrote that hit piece despite, by his own admission, not having read enough of Sotomayor's opinions or spoken to enough of her colleagues to reach a fair assessment. The same Jeffrey Rosen who took a 14-year-old quote in which a judge referred to Sotomayor as "smart," cut off the word "smart," and portrayed the quote as an example of people saying Sotomayor is not smart. The same Jeffrey Rosen who refused to correct that obvious inaccuracy even after it was pointed out by The New Yorker, by this blog, and via email.
The proper response -- indeed, the only acceptable response -- to "journalism" such as Rosen's would be for him to be, as Nyhan put it "publicly shamed" so as to provide a disincentive to similar misinformation by him and others in the future.
But that is not how the media elite treat the media elite. And so rather than being shamed into finally correcting his dishonest description of the quote, Jeffrey Rosen is handed high-profile Time magazine real estate to write about the very person he just finished smearing. And Time's Karen Tumulty (one of the better reporters the elite media has to offer) praises it as "worth a read." Well, no, it isn't. Nothing Jeffrey Rosen has to say is "worth a read" if he refuses to correct blatant falsehoods in his work. He simply cannot be trusted.
That is how media elites treat media "elites who promote misperceptions" -- with praise. And they wonder why nobody trusts them.